Schwartz September 2019

A Food Revolution

Great, affordable food served from a van or a stall at markets, festivals and events is now taking the UK by storm…

The street food revolution is a global phenomenon and this year is set to be a bumper one for the UK. A firm favourite in London, it’s now a growing trend around the country. Street food in the UK has doubled in size every year for the past four years. The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) said they have had almost 700 new businesses sign up with them since January 2014 and they now have close to 2,000 traders working.

“The street food industry in the UK is growing faster than anyone could have predicted,” says Mark Laurie, director at NCASS. “It’s passionate people making great quality and affordable food for everyone to sample. This is an upward trend, and certainly no fad.”

The appeal

Street food has successfully made the art of dining out move from fussy to unfussy. Not only does it allow everybody to taste global cuisine in an affordable, unpretentious setting, it is homemade produce made by skilled, enthusiastic people. It is one of the most affordable and low-risk ways to start your own business, helps to re-energise under-utilised and possibly unloved urban spaces, creates jobs and brings people together.

Nationwide trend

Street food first took off in London, but now it’s reaching the masses outside the capital in cities and towns including: Birmingham, Newcastle, Tiverton, Frome and Blackpool. But it’s Leeds’ forward thinking ‘Trinity Effect’ – five traders taking residency in the shopping centre for one month – that has got other nationwide shopping centres hoping to follow suit.

Waste not, want not

A shocking 3.9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year by the food and drink industry. It is estimated that 10% of this waste is fit for consumption, enough food for 800 million meals, according to FareShare. In contrast, many street food traders are actively seeking to avoid waste and only cook what they need. There is a move within the industry to work together to re-use any waste that is created at festivals and events and NCASS is working closely with FareShare South West and A Greener Festival to pilot a new scheme.

Allergy friendly

The allergen legislation, which came into force last December, requires all businesses to provide allergy information to customers on food sold unpacked. Street traders make their own food so they know exactly what ingredients they have used and in turn, they can tell and show their customers.

Handmade happiness

Leeds-based Market Wraps has been trading for four years, with a regular spot at Leeds Farmers Market. Owner and trained chef Carl Denning, along with his members of staff, pride themselves on delivering something just a little bit special on the streets of Yorkshire. Their previous menu included wraps filled with everything from curry to spinach, but they now concentrate solely on their pulled pork wrap. “Instead of having several items that are going to be good, we wanted to have one item that is amazing,” said Carl.

Served in his mum’s handmade flatbread, accompanied by their own sauces, everything on the stand is homemade using local ingredients. Carl says there is nothing better than seeing their customers reaction. “We get so much back from their feedback, and we know that if they like it then they’ll be back for more!”

See Carl’s recipe here.


Some examples of traders in the UK:
• Exeter Innovations Street Food, Guildhall shopping Centre, Exeter
• Treacle Market, Market Place, Macclesfield
• Stockbridge Market, Saunders Street, Edinburgh
• Piccadilly Street Food Market, Manchester
• Eat Street, Food Market, Regent Court Shopping Centre, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
• Cranleigh Market, Village Way Car Park, Surrey

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