How to start a food truck business in Dubai

19 February 2019 Category :

Launching a food truck business is an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs looking to profit from Dubai’s fast-growing street culture at pop-up events, markets and fairs.

Location is everything but you also need the right approvals in place to turn your idea into a successful enterprise.

To obtain a food truck license, you require a compelling business plan, a compliant central kitchen and an approved blueprint of the fit-out. Be on top of the process and you can save time and start trading more quickly.

Here are four steps to create a successful food truck startup in Dubai:

1. Submit a compelling business plan to the Dubai Economic Department (DED)

 The quicker you win DED approval, the quicker you can start your food truck

With its burgeoning market for pop-up events, fantastic climate, and world-renowned trade fairs, it’s little wonder Dubai is seen as an ideal city to set up a food truck business.

However, before you dive in and buy a food truck and start preparing your menu, you need to create a strong business plan and submit it to the DED and Dubai Municipality for approval.

Your business plan must showcase your idea, your plan of action and your budgets. It must convince government entities that your food truck concept can work.

Check out the competition and note what makes the most popular food trucks a hit with customers. Consider what’s unique about your offering and what you can do to persuade people to part with their dirhams?

Include details of how will you fund your startup, how you will manage it and your plans to scale-up. Consider the regulatory and market risks, and the variables which can adversely affect your business. Also, have a plan for reserve cash just in case you meet cashflow problems.

It’s important to be as detailed and realistic as possible when providing financial data. Also, be aware that in the UAE, business plans need to contain significantly more detailed research than may be required in other countries.

2. Get HACCP approval for your kitchen and truck

Knowing how to get health and safety certification will save you time and money

To operate a food truck business in Dubai, entrepreneurs must obtain two important health and safety certifications which must then be officially approved.

Firstly, you must obtain HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) certification for the layout of your central kitchen if you plan to pre-prepare some of your offerings. Secondly, you need to get HACCP certification for the blueprint of the design and fit-out of your food truck.

HACCP certification provides assurance on the safety of the consumption of the product/s you intend to sell. It is based on the identification, control and elimination of the hazards and risk factors that adversely affect the products.

Once obtained, the HACCP certificates must be submitted for approval by the government. Only with these approvals in place can you start trading so it pays to get expert advice from leading consultants based in Dubai to make sure you follow the correct procedures.

3.Choose a great location

Higher footfall means more chance of higher profits.

Do your research and plan diligently. It’s important to note that food trucks in Dubai are not allowed to move around. They need to be placed at a pre-secured location.

Scan the city for possible locations and find out who owns the land. The very best locations go quickly when a new pop-up event, market or fair opens in Dubai so you need to be on the ball to profit from popular eating spots.

Locations can be limited and most are owned by private landlords. Develop contacts, get to know landlords and keep up to date with urban renovations and developments in the city where foot trucks may be authorised. This could help you secure competitive advantage.

Food trucks are popping up all over the city according to the Dubai. Popular spots include Kite Beach, which has established itself as a foodie destination and is home to the award-winning Salt burger joint, and Palm Jumeirah, where 30 pop-ups are planned.

Don’t confine your search to the centre of Dubai. Consider the new themed food truck sites on key routes on the outskirts of the city. Last Exit, for example, now runs sites at Al Khawaneej, Al Qudra and Jebel Ali.

Food truck parks are springing up all over Dubai. They include TruckersDXB, which pops up around the city in winter, and Truckers Summer Warehouse.

When you spot a great site, act fast to secure it so you can gain a foothold in your chosen location before other food trucks move on to neighbouring locations.

4. Get your license, buy your truck and start trading

Your food truck license is your passport to success

When you buy your truck, design it according to the fit-out approved by the authorities. The truck should be supportive of your kitchen, capable of handling the heat and must have proper ventilation.

Once you’ve obtained your food truck license, all you need to do is start preparing and cooking your delicious food. Don’t forget to make sure it tastes as good as you say it does!

Don’t forget to get help if you need it

A passion for tasty food and outdoor eating, and a wealth of new sites and pop-ups have created a flourishing food truck scene in Dubai.

By entering the market now, you join it at an exciting time in its growth. With a great concept and site, you have every chance of creating a thriving business with the possibility to expand on to other sites or other forms of catering.

However, getting a licence is not easy, especially for newcomers. To minimise hassle, it’s worth considering working with a specialist, Arabic-speaking consultancy with local knowledge on how to obtain DED and HACCP approvals.

There is also help available to brand, design, fit-out and operate your food truck. While this can be costly for startups, it may come in handy for first-time entrepreneurs and will give you more time to focus on core activities.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to  info@vz.ae, or click here.

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About the author: Paul Bryson, Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone.
About the author: Paul Bryson, Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone.

Paul Bryson is the Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone, based in Dubai, UAE. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the British Business Group, Dubai and Northern Emirates. A knowledgeable and active member of the business community in the UAE, Paul advises large multi-nationals and small startup businesses on how to best establish commercial presence in Dubai and across the rest of the UAE and Gulf region. Before embarking on his career in the Emirates, Paul graduated from the University of the West of Scotland with a Diploma in International Business.