Food Trucks in South Australia

We want to hear your thoughts about how we can support food trucks in South Australia.

The Government wants to do what it can to support food truck ventures and ensure such entrepreneurial activity is not handicapped by unnecessarily complex and changing regulation. A discussion paper has been released that briefly explores the regulations that mobile food vendors must currently comply with, and proposes several ideas for simplifying this 'red tape' and other measures to support food trucks.

The goal is to achieve a future for food trucks where there is balance in the marketplace and consistency across councils throughout the state. Ideas raised in the discussion paper include a simpler permit system, offering rebates on vehicle registrations and offering greater freedom for food trucks to operate on State Government land.

Comments closed

Tom Sika

15 Jan 2016

The discussion paper identifies a number of legislative requirements and proposes a 1 stop Single Point Permit Agency (SPPA) to centrally manage the permit, compliance and safety regimes. I work for the Office of the Technical Regulator, Government agency responsible for the technical regulation of Gas and Electricity standards as per the Gas Act 1997, Electricity Act 1996 and Energy Products (Safety and Efficiency) Act 2012. In the respective Acts, the owner/operator of a Gas or Electrical installation has an obligation to ensure that it is compliant, safe and safely operated. This includes domestic homes, factories, catering trucks, caravans, tricycles, carts, marquees or mobile / temporary trading facilities. Gas fitting and Electrical work must be performed by appropriately licensed persons who are legally required to issue a certificate of compliance to certify their work. Will the SPPA make it compulsory for mobile catering vendors to provide documentary evidence of compliance for their gas and electrical installations, i.e certificates of compliance issued by licensed gas fitters, electricians for their installations as per the requirements of the above mentioned Acts? SafeWork SA are the regulatory authority that regulate amongst other things, testing and tagging of extension cords, fire extinguisher and storage/use of LPG? There are a number of regulatory stakeholders that can provide advice and assistance to Councils, Government and Operators of Food Trucks, Vans, etc. We have recently inspected gas installations in representative sample of Food Trucks and Vans in the Adelaide CBD for compliance and nearly every one inspected was non-compliant. As a result the OTR will look to meet with the ACC and any other regulatory body to look at ways to set minimum administrative standards for Food Trucks, Vans, Tricycles, Carts and portable catering that trade in controlled environments. We suggest that SafeWork SA also be involved as the catering outlets are workplaces and they often have LPG cylinders on site so the Work Health and Safety Act and Dangerous Substances Act may apply. Other considerations: the diverse range of vehicles used include trucks, vans, tricycles and carts. There may be a need for validation to ensure conformance to the Department of Planning Transport and Infrastructure Vehicle Standards, i.e. MR806. Have the vehicles been inspected to determine if they are roadworthy? Do operators undertake risk assessments in relation to the places they operate in to cover factors such as placement of vehicles, generators, LPG storage and use, traffic management etc.? This may sound like more bureaucracy and impost to some but public safety ranks very high with us. The OTR is happy to advise Food Vendors, Councils or Event Organisers on how to meet the regulatory safety requirements outlined in the Standards called up by the Gas and Electricity Acts. Contact the OTR on 82265722 during normal business hours for gas and electrical safety advice. Cheers Tom Sika, Manager Gas Installation & Appliance Safety

Carlita Warren

15 Jan 2016

Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) welcomes the Government’s Food Trucks in SA Discussion Paper in fostering growth and reducing the regulatory burden associated with starting a mobile food business. R&CA is the peak industry association representing the interests of 35,000 restaurants, cafes and catering businesses across Australia.

While R&CA supports a standardised permit system in principle, the association also seeks to ensure a level playing field between existing cafes and restaurants and food truck operators. R&CA supports the establishment of location guidelines and food truck quotas to provide a coordinated approach to the integration of food trucks into key dining precincts. Where a maximum permit cost is established, these fees must reflect the true commercial value of trading in certain LGAs. Standardised health inspections recognised across municipalities offers one area of significant red tape reduction that may also provide an opportunity to reward mobile businesses that consistently demonstrate exceptional food safety standards.

For further information, please see R&CA’s submission at:


07 Jan 2016

Less restrictions the better, within reason.

Fixed vs free roaming type (for the day), identification, maybe considered when applying for permits etc.
Identification of State registered food trucks
Identification of local supporter of local produce

However the last few are mainly marketing issues.

These are my thoughts.

Brenton Westell

05 Jan 2016

and PS... competition is touted as the driver of progress in the business world.. unless the competition might affect you it seems?

Brenton Westell

05 Jan 2016

Vibrancy, colour, and part of the recent elevation of the city's image. Why would you want to reduce food trucks? Unless you want to enshrine mediocrity once again? Propping up more traditional establishments rather than encouraging them to reinvent themselves panders to the establishment and actively discourages start ups while allowing stagnation.
The Adelaide City council is obviously looking after the commercial interests of the people who voted them in, but there's room for everyone if the main stream stop thinking of themselves. (Oh, that requires a social conscience and in local politics that can be sorely lacking.)

Ryan Reynolds

05 Jan 2016

I think this issue is an excellent example of where entrenched special interest groups have co-opted a governance process for their own benefit. The Adelaide City Council is clearly not representing the interests of consumers or the residents of Adelaide (who overwhelmingly like having a lot of cheap and excellent food trucks to choose from), but are instead representing the interests of a handful of existing bricks and mortar business owners who are being undercut by a better and cheaper product. For this reason alone no Council should be in charge of determining licensing for food trucks - because they have a major conflict of interest and they are not interested in governing for the benefit of the residents of the City.

James Stanley

03 Jan 2016

I think food trucks are a inspiring proposition to a person interested in a start up business. This i feel is a perfect vehicle for individuals to take a risk on a small scale and learn important business rules and lessons. Food trucks should almost be used to teach business and hospitality. As seen in the apprentice on T.V. many of the challenges were catering and food and hospitality orientated. I hope food vans are embraced in South Australia and the city of Adelaide where they add a vibrancy and character that promotes more visitors and engagement. As we have seen with disruptions in other industries, in technology as a example, competition will have to adapt to food vans in there regions and be innovative to remain viable and improve there services to stay competitive. I only see competition as a good thing. I would maybe suggest some distance restriction to bricks and mortar food businesses (maybe 100 metres) and use of parks and gardens perimeters as possible zones for food trucks. I hope government makes it easy for food truck start ups and doesn't strangle the businesses with red tape. I hope to see food safety audited physically on regular occasions and permits remaining at a feasible yearly rate.

Community Engagement @ Adelaide City Council

23 Dec 2015

In response to the State Government’s ‘Food Trucks In SA’ Discussion Paper The Adelaide City Council has reviewed the Discussion Paper and carefully considered the options tabled and the potential implications this may have for councils in South Australia.

The submission has been provided directly to The Hon Jay Weatherill MP, Premier of South Australia for consideration.

Council’s current position and response to the Discussion Paper is presented throughout this submission including:
• Response to the Discussion Paper
• An overview of the ACC Mobile Food Vending Program and Operating Guidelines
• Legislative context
• Response to Option 1 – Consistent Permit System
• Response to Option 2 – Centralised Permit System

The Discussion Paper and Council’s MFV Operating Guidelines both acknowledge MFVs provide a number of benefits to a city and local communities in terms of increased vibrancy, activation and opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The past four years have seen the Adelaide City Council successfully manage a MFV program which is responsive to and supports the Council and Government’s outcomes of a vibrant city while providing a platform for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Council has undertaken several pieces of key research into the economic and social benefits of MFVs in a city and believes it is able to offer evidence and learning to support the growth of such a program. This could be achieved through inter-council collaboration and Council is well placed to take a leadership position for Local Government on this issue.

Council believes through sharing its’ research and findings with State Government it provides a platform for LG and State Government to work together to ensure the outcomes of all parties and their stakeholders are achieved.

Council’s view is that while the options outlined in the Discussion Paper may provide some benefit to MFVs, it is felt there is a distinct lack of clarity around how the proposed reforms would work in practice. Therefore, Council will provide a finalised position on the reforms proposed once the outcome of the Discussion Paper is released.

Peter Day

16 Dec 2015

It worries me that the Discussion Paper says things like ' is essential that we do what we can to support food truck ventures'. As a general principle I think the government(s) should facilitate business by getting out of the way. Sound business ideas don't need 'support' from governments. In this case I expect the reference to support refers to helping food trucks from the breadth of regulatory control that currently exists. But other businesses also need help from red tape. One of the problems identified in the Discussion Paper is that multiple councils will have multiple requirements. This of course is also true for other businesses who want to operate across the greater metropolitan area: the lack of consistency in regulatory requirements of local government is appalling and acts as a real disincentive to business investment. This occurs in the planning and development industry but also ranges across waste management, stormwater management, environmental controls and trees to name a few. For a city the size of Adelaide to have so many councils is crazy and over-the-top bureacracy. Brisbane manages a larger area and population with one council. If we are serious about economic development and reform include this on the top of the list.

Getting back to food trucks - if we must, a single permit system would be better than the existing system. But when we begin to list common conditions we should take a least intrusive approach. Why are we interested to control what a food vendor sells? Is there a legitimate case for requiring $10m publlic liability insurance? And why list laws that apply anyway (eg public safety etc)? The first response to people who want to set up a business venture in Adelaide or SA should be Yes, how can we help. Not, these are the hurdles you'll have to jump.

Ravi Subraman

16 Dec 2015

If you had to explain the difference between a food truck and a restaurant to an 85-year old grandmother, you’d probably start out with the most obvious difference: a food truck has wheels.
Then why impose restrictions on where a food truck can travel within metropolitan Adelaide?
The ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses have not only a fixed clientele by virtue of their fixed location but also several other advantages over the food trucks which ensure patrons to their business. The mobile food trucks should never be perceived as a threat to their business.
The Government of SA should look at the food trucks as a way to provide unique food from various cultures reach people living far away from the CBD.
If food trucks are really a great way for us to showcase our exciting food culture to bring vibrancy to our streets and festivals, I sincerely hope my feedback will assist the SA Government to rethink how they may support food trucks in South Australia.
Allowing food trucks the ‘real’ mobility could be an opportunity for State and Local Government(s) to work together in identifying new opportunities for novel dining experiences.
A single centralised permit system covering metropolitan Adelaide is the sort of innovation that we want to see in South Australia.

M.L. Emmett

14 Dec 2015

I think you need to consider restaurant & cafe owners who have to pay huge overheads(e.g. City, N.A. & Norwood) and their viability. I think food trucks should be able to go to 'events' in parks or on roadside spots where no other venues are close by. Also I have concerns about the pollution of their on board generators. Also, who checks their refridgeration & health compliance?

jack de kievit > M.L. Emmett

16 Dec 2015

the thousants of cars in the metro pollute a whole lot more then the few little generators powering 1 or 2 fridges. my refrigeration is digital controlled and displayed all the time. health compliance is a must before you even start operating.

Amanda Lowe

14 Dec 2015

Free market; unlimited trucks; centralised permits and more freedom for the business owners sounds like the best and fairest way to go.

Robert Beaumont

14 Dec 2015

For goodness sake, people, haven't we got more important things to worry about in SA than food trucks? Just make a decision and move on!

jack de kievit > Robert Beaumont

16 Dec 2015

this is about the food trucks, not the other issues.

Angus Bruce

14 Dec 2015

I like the idea of unlimited food trucks. Let the market decide how many there should be, and what they will serve. Of course the hygiene standards will need to be adhered to - important if a food truck hopes to attract repeat clientele too.
I can understand that councils need to represent the interests of the vested interests in bricks and mortar, who also cast the votes in council elections, but this may be one area where the interests of the wider community do not align with those who vote for councillors.

sarah olijnyk

14 Dec 2015

I have worked and trained in the food industry for more than 40 years and have some comments to make based on that. I have bought food from vans but I am not convinced that they are safe to eat from.

As a customer I see food handling hygiene as being very important. It is so easy to wear gloves then take money and then not discard gloves. I have worked in cafes and on stalls and when the customers begin to crowd around it is exciting to be successful but also confusing and stressful and in this climate all kinds of safe practices are forgotten. This is partly a staffing situation - one person managing in quiet times and then employing more at short notice when the crowd builds. It is also important that one person is in charge and reminds staff of safe handling and OH&S.

Is running water always available and can it be disposed of safely? what about electrical equipment and it's safety?

Then there is proper Government support and regulation - this is hardly available for food services in a permanent situation let alone these mobile vans. Constant vigilance/advice is required and needs funding.

I have considered running such a facility and what has always been a huge pressure is the insurance required. How can this be helped? Obviously a business plan would make such considerations simple but where does the finance come from to help people who are really low in funds to cover all the costs involved?

Setting up a van seems such an optimistic and reasonably simple way for people inspired to sell great food to get a foot in the door. I think they need help before they even think of a recipe.

Christine Ball

14 Dec 2015

Love the idea of food trucks - it's a great idea to help promote our lovely city and add colour and vibrance.


14 Dec 2015

If councils via the Local Government Association cannot agree on food trucks then it's time for the State government to step in.
Give the process a deadline instead of letting matter drift on.

I agree on principal the food trucks need to "add" to the existing infrastructure as an alternative style of food and drink delivery and should be encouraged to fill in gaps where catering is non-existent.

Disability access cannot be easily addressed by lowering a counter. My suggestion is to make compulsory the installation of a bell at wheelchair height to attract the attention of the food server. Education would be required to make sure the food server gets out of the truck and meets the person with a disability at their level.

Dean Podger

14 Dec 2015

As far as I am concerned, the more the merrier! Food trucks are a necessity at various one off events and a great way to highlight new and interesting cusines. If established bricks and mortar restaurants can't compete I suggest that is a fault in their own management. As to licensing, council should stop interfering in free enterprise and let the buying public make the final choice of where and what they eat. Sieze the Day!

Seb Sabogal

14 Dec 2015

Food trucks provide vibrancy and eating options in the city (as they should in other parts of Adelaide - time for other councils to get in the game!) - while we always hear about 'bricks and mortar' establishments and the unfair advantage that food trucks have over them I see no reason why both food trucks and brick and mortar businesses can't co-exist. The experience is very different generally (i.e. if I want a sit down lunch I won't go to a food truck) as can be the food. Good bricks and mortar businesses will attract clientele as will good food trucks - this is good for choice and consumers! Food trucks are disruptive but that's a positive word! As long are they managed appropriately (I'd be annoyed if one was stationed directly in front of my corner lunch shop) I can't see why they should be overly restricted. FYI also - often food trucks do have unseen overheads such as cold storage and warehousing costs.

Ian Winter

14 Dec 2015

Food trucks have put back life and colour into the city and to the suburbs they visit. I cannot see that they are much of a threat to established well run,quality food outlets.We need to support these start up businesses usually run be young people. I know of at least one truck that has
open a bricks and mortar restaurant,more choice more jobs ,lets have more of them!

jack de kievit

08 Dec 2015

I have invested 50 grand into a food trailer 8 months ago and I must say I am very disappointed in some councils down south.
my local and neighbouring council will NOT give out any street trading permit to anyone. From what I know, some local businesses are against it. clearly they are scared of competition and loss of customers. my opinion is that if you have a good product, your customers will come back, if not, you need to lift up your game. competition is healthy and keep you motivated to create a better product, and the customers profits from it. I cannot make a living from a few local markets and an event or 2 every now and then. I am not talking about a 7 day trade but I would be very happy with just 2 week days! Councils should support their local small businesses imo but it isn't happening. I can lease a shop and trade 7 days a week if I choose to, why would a mobile business be any different?
I love what I am doing and always looking to perfect my product even more but I really feel like I am on my own without any support what so ever. I really hope to see some positive changes soon.

Diane Campbell > jack de kievit

19 Dec 2015

Disappointing to hear that, I like the odd food truck. I wonder about large office buildings with forecourts - at one stage the (old!) RAH allowed food trucks, usually different ones each day. If office blocks have agreements with an on-site café not to allow anything else maybe they need to check with their other tenants, some of whom might love to see an open coffee van on the way in to work! May I suggest - I visited a Victor Harbour caravan park last year and they had either a fish'n'chip truck or a curry foodtruck once or twice a week; it would be evening not lunch but I think that's an under resourced niche; there are a number of such parks in suburban Adelaide.

Felicity Hage

04 Dec 2015

When there's an event on or a seasonal increase in visitors for example the food trucks are an excellent resource to offer choice. Many people do not like the formalities of a restaurant and food truck catering offers people this option. Oftenit is how people get to taste different cuisines or new food movements so I say keep the food trucks and keep SA comparable with the rest of the world! Why cant shop based businesses work in with food trucks and develop joint food/drink offers? Both will benefit then.

Curt Vuorela

01 Dec 2015

The city may not seem so vibrant with an increase in empty shops, so many empty shops already, why create more. All the talk about areas for food trucks to set up, when they seem to just want Victoria Sq and Hindmarsh Sq, where there are an abundance of cafe/take away outlets already. State govt struggles enough to get things right and should keep out of council business, this seems like opportunistic vote grabbing to me.

Ravi Subraman

30 Nov 2015

Thank you Glenda for pointing out the shortcoming in the design of food trucks. I will bear in mind this requirement when I get to design my truck.

Glenda Lee

27 Nov 2015

Food trucks are not accessible to wheelchair users. The counter top is usually way above our heads. This lack of access often means that we are not noticed and sometimes even ignored. It makes it impossible to order with any sense of dignity, impossible to pass money up and impossible to get our food/drinks safely. This is a serious situation or inequity and frustration. It is also in contravention of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.