In order to secure a significant audience, street stalls/kiosks are typically located in high traffic areas such as business districts, or near entertainment venues. Given this, the measures taken to control COVID-19 served as a heavy blow to many operators.
Despite a challenging year, street stalls/kiosks still performed better than some other consumer foodservice channels such as full-service restaurants and cafés/bars. This was in part thanks to the efforts of food trucks, some of which managed to see strong performances in 2020 despite COVID-19.
Beyond the potential of food trucks in urban areas, opportunities are still largely limited to usually short-lived and unpredictable trends such as the rise of bubble tea, though street stalls/kiosks does, at least, offer the flexibility to adapt quickly to such trends. Some of the more notable trends in 2020 included banana juice, which came to the attention of consumers after its health benefits were promoted on TV, and Korean street food.
Following the success of the food trucks model, platform providers (such as food truck rentals) and intermediary services (such as searching locations, renting food trucks, seed funding etc) like Mello Inc are expected to be a key component for the growth of street stalls/kiosks. With prevailing economic uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19, many entrepreneurs are also likely to lack the funds/budget to open full-service restaurants and so may instead turn to food trucks as a way to gauge the receptiveness of consumers to their menu ideas or food concepts.
Key to the recovery of street stalls/kiosks will be the successful containment of COVID-19 and the completion of Japan’s vaccination programme. Once consumers are confident about returning to the workplace and social engagements resume this should bring foot traffic back to urban centres, which are the key locations for most street stalls/kiosks.
The younger generation in Japan are key to creating new trends in Japan. For example, bubble tea and sweets using tapioca benefited from the rising demand for products considered insta-bae (products which are considered photogenic on social media site Instagram) amongst younger female consumers, in particular.
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