In 2020, the Malaysian government introduced the Free Trade Area programme to ease the process of trading by the roadside. The programme aims to help those who want to make a living during the challenging economic climate due to the Covid-19 pandemic by opening a food truck business.
Under the programme, 4,288 temporary licenses were granted during the period from year 2020 for setting up a roadside business in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.
One such roadside trading business is the food truck. The food truck industry allows one to start trading at a more affordable cost compared to opening a full-fledged shop. With a food truck business, there’s more flexibility in terms of choosing a suitable location at certain days and times when there’s a bigger crowd.
In fact, some food truck owners were able to develop their business and expand into shops after some time. For example, eateries like Little Fat Duck and the famous Rojak SS15 Subang Jaya were selling from a food truck before venturing into a full shop business they are today.
Food trucks are also a platform to let business owners test out their products before going full on. Even some established companies such as Tealive and Nestle’s Milo are on board this.
Choosing Your Food Truck: Lorry, Bus, Van, Car And Motorbike
When we talk about food trucks, we usually think of the bigger lorry trucks that come with a counter and even a basic food preparation area. These are some of the more comprehensive food trucks out there. Depending on the type of food you’re selling, you may need a truck that is more fully-equipped than others.
For instance, if you’re selling hot dishes like pasta, you may need a truck that has a gas burner and even freezer for your raw materials. On the other hand, for those who sell drinks or cakes that can be prepared beforehand, you may just need a preparation area and payment counter.
Food truck owners who need to cook on the spot are advised to use cooking gas rather than a generator. The generator should instead be utilised to power appliances such as lights, oven, coffee maker and deep frier.
Some traders even transform private cars to sell food from behind their bonnet like the popular Kancil ‘apam balik’ seller who dishes out the local snack from his Perodua Kancil in Kuala Lumpur.
On top of that, you can think about the designing of the exterior part of your food truck as well. You may add creative prints or decorations outside your vehicle to set yourself apart from others.
Food truck owners will need to apply for approval from two government organisations to use their vehicle for business – the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and computerised vehicle inspection company (PUSPAKOM). They will also need to separately apply for permits from local authorities in the location that you will be operating your food truck business. This will in total take more than three to four months.
Costs Of Compulsory Licenses, Permits And Certifications
Like all businesses in Malaysia, food truck owners need to first register their company and personal name with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). The registration costs for new businesses are broken down as below:
Trade Name – RM60 per year
Personal Name – RM30 per year
Business Information – RM10
As mentioned, they also need to apply and pass the tests for a vocational license namely the Goods Driving License (GDL) with JPJ. The license comes with a charge of RM20 a year. Meanwhile, driving school Metro Driving Academy offers GDL lessons at RM500.
Then, food truck owners can submit an application for a hawker license with any of the 149 local authorities in Malaysia including the Kuala Lumpur City Hall that govern various areas. The hawker license is only valid for a year for an annual fee of RM500, according to SME Info. Local authorities also dictate that hawker license holders and their employees should receive vaccination for Typhoid – TY2. According to the Johor Bahru City Council, typhoid vaccination prices are set at RM70 in the city.
In addition, food truck owners also need to undergo a compulsory Food Handling Course set by the Ministry of Health to be schooled on food borne diseases, food safety and hygiene. The short course is offered by training schools and is also available online. Food and beverage consultancy company Al Barakah Training Solution offers the course at RM50.
|RM20 per year
|RM500 per year
|Food handling course
|Total (1st year)
Getting The Food Truck
As property prices continue to increase, a food truck may be a viable alternative for those who want to set up a food business.
A check on popular marketplace platform Mudah, under Carousell, shows that used food trucks are available for rent from RM1,200 to RM2,200 per month. There are also second-hand food trucks that are available for purchase from RM12,800 to RM89,800 with engine capacities of 1.0 cc to 4.6 cc.
The most affordable food truck on the platform, priced at RM12,800, is a Japanese brand Suzuki truck released in 1992 or 1993. The medium-sized truck is sold in Kuching, Sarawak and has the equipment ready for business.
Meanwhile, there is a food truck priced at RM89,800 is from Japanese brand Isuzu and was bought in 2015 with a garnered mileage of 25,000 only. The 14-feet food truck comes with air-conditioning, power steering and relatively new green paint work.
For new vehicles, vehicle seller Papavan offers a new 1.3 cc engine truck for RM47,000. The new truck comes with a three-year warranty and is 8.5 feet long.
Choosing A Location And Setting Up Your Business
Like setting up a restaurant in a shop, it’s important to choose a suitable location for your food truck. There are designated areas that are dedicated for food truck vendors such as Tapak Urban Jalan Ampang in Kuala Lumpur and Tapak Food Truck Tebrau in Johor Bahru. These areas allow vendors to conduct their business without interrupting traffic.
Parking your truck at a venue with higher foot traffic could benefit your business. In addition, it’s important to check if there’s already a food truck in the venue selling the same products as you and if so, you may consider a different location.
As mentioned, food and beverage business operators are required to get necessary vaccinations as well as training on food handling. This is especially important when you’re dealing with raw materials. You need to ensure that you have the right equipment for storing them and that the space in your food truck is well-ventilated.
You can have three staff on duty at your food truck for orders taking, food preparation, and packaging.
As you will be operating from a food truck for customers who are on-the-go, it’s important to also make sure that you have appropriate packaging materials such as sustainable paper food boxes, straws, and serviettes.
Featured Image Credit: Papavan Malaysia
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