If you’re searching for what the cost of a juice truck business is, you’ve already got a sense of what this kind of business is. For the sake of clarity, however, a juice truck business is a unique concept based on the growing novel trend of the food truck industry. It’s essentially a mobile kiosk-style juice bar, that’s a smaller-scale operation than the typical juice and smoothie bar business concept.
Starting and running a juice food truck will be a very different experience from opening and operating a juice store concept, and the costs for each are also very different.
We’ve broken down the key variables to consider when working out how much it may cost you to open and run a juice truck business, as well as additional pros and cons of this business model, compared with that of a juice bar store.
Ultimately, we share our stance on which one is more ideal for potential business owners based on the information we share in this guide.
Below are the key variables you would need to consider when assessing the cost of a juice truck business. We share what you need to consider with each element, and how to go about getting the cost info for each scenario, as well as a ‘general’ mock-up budget below.
How you acquire the truck will have a big impact on the cost of starting a juice truck. If you buy it outright, it will, of course, cost more. If you decide to lease a truck, then the terms of the lease (as well as the size and type of truck) will impact on cost.
Additionally, out-fitting your juicer truck will incur the biggest costs in this startup phase (unless you bought it or are leasing it in a ready-to-go state with all elements already there for production). Otherwise, putting in the specific sinks, refrigeration, appliances, prep and storage space, and more will cost you.
How to Assess Costs:
After deciding on whether you’re going to buy or lease a truck, you then need to see what needs to be done in terms of internal upgrades. You can get quotes from contractors to see the cost, and also don’t forget about the cost of painting/branding the outside of the truck.
Note that the structure of your menu will have an impact on how the internal working-space should be laid out and organized, so have your menu created first before you make big changes to the internal space.
Every region will be different when it comes to the required licenses and permits and how much they will cost for a juice truck business. They will include health department licenses, business licenses, permits for fire departments, signage, parking, etc.
How to Assess Costs:
It’s a very different scenario when it comes to licenses and permits that you’ll need for a mobile juice truck business as opposed to a juice bar store, so you would need to check in with your local city information sector and ask about the legal requirements to run this kind of business. Each state and city will have different regulations when it comes to health permits, and parking permits and rules, etc.
As another substantial cost, the equipment you’ll obtain (again, as based on your menu) will vary. The following equipment list details the general pieces you’ll need to consider when outfitting a juice truck.
It’s important to know that some trucks may come outfitted with existing refrigeration and freezers and storage spaces, so this wouldn’t be an extra expense (though might make the truck lease/purchase more expensive up front).
Your choice of juicing and blending units will again have a big impact on cost. This means the difference of $10,000 or more. Commercial-grade juices don’t come cheap, and if you’re anticipating high-sales, then having multiple units will allow you to meet demand, which will rack up costs again.
JUICER – Centrifugal or Masticating?
The commercial centrifugal juicers will be faster in creating your juices, though they will also yield a lower nutritional content, and be less efficient in how they are using produce (I.e. you’ll burn through produce faster, and therefore have higher product costs). The price of centrifugal juices ranges from about $1,000 – $3,000 USD (not including shipping, which can be quite a lot since the weight of juicers is substantial).
A commercial masticating juicer extracts more nutritional value, though it has a slow rate of juicing, and you would often need multiple units of this type to be able to have a consistent and efficient process of timely fulfilling orders. Per unit, prices can range from $400 – $900, so overall costs for multiple units could end up being more than the centrifugal types.
If you are choosing to offer cold-pressed juices – which have become very popular for consumers due to the highest nutritional content – the Hydraulic cold-press juicers will handle the best when it comes to commercial juice production, though the costs are the highest at $15,000 to $30,000.
BLENDER – How to Choose
Choosing a blender is more simple, in that you’ll choose the brand and look for the commercial professional models. Keep in mind that blenders with sound barriers are best suited to juice trucks – if they’re too noisy, you simply won’t be able to hear any customer orders or team communication every time you use the blender.
You can also consider creating a custom sound barrier for your blender station in your truck, which is again highly recommended for the small workstation space that is so close to where people will be ordering.
How to Assess Costs for Equipment:
Again, as based on your menu, you’ll have an idea of the appliances needed for the juice truck – especially how much refrigeration or storage space you’ll need (which is often based on how big your menu is).
Once you have an idea of the pieces of equipment, contact many different commercial suppliers and ask for quotes. Compare these to each other, read reviews on the models, and that will give you the most economic way to find your equipment.
To create your menu, you would also set aside some capital to purchase ingredients as you trial recipes, or perhaps to pay a consultant to create your menu for you (we offer this service, more info below).
If you’re perfecting recipes, you could be spending up to a couple of thousand dollars (sometimes more) when using high-quality produce and superfoods to go through many iterations of menu items.
We’ve worked with many clients to craft their menu based on their brand values and overall concept (and operating budget). Having experts who have worked within the foodservice industry create your menu is very valuable, as they can tailor the menu to be unique to you, whilst keeping in line with the most efficient and cost-effective use of your ingredients.
If you’d like help creating your menu, reach out to us on the form at the bottom of this article.
An important note about your menu:
Though it’s tempting to extract recipes online, don’t make this mistake. Free juice and smoothie recipes online are not specifically tailored to a food service concept, which needs to take into account the economic use of ingredients and service time. Create your own original recipes – you will ultimately save the most money by investing time and some resources into creating your unique menu.
Below is a sample budget for the cost of a juice truck business, from a lower to a higher range. Note that it will be dependent on your individual circumstance, as outlined above.
Note: Consider that the higher range assumes that you need to do a more extensive build-out of the truck, adding core equipment that you have had to purchase; refrigeration, for example. The lower range indicates that those elements (and potentially other equipment and storage/counter space) are already outfitted in the truck when you obtain it.
There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a juice truck business model. We’ll outline the key pros and cons, as based on our industry knowledge, as well as our founder’s first-hand experience of running a juice truck business before opening a juice bar.
There are some key benefits you’ll enjoy when opening a juice truck. The points below share the reason why people are interested in this business model.
It can definitely be a cheaper start-up to undertake when you compare a truck versus an entire store. Simply with less space comes less equipment and storage space, which brings down those costs too.
The potential to change locations if needed is also an advantage. When you have a store, you commit to that one location, and if later you find out that the demographic isn’t matching your target market, then it’s much harder to move.
With a truck, you can test different areas and find the best location for consistent sales. It can actually be a good tactic to use a juice truck at first to test out the potential location of a store if opening a store is your main goal.
Since the truck’s exterior is a giant sign, you can advertise your menu, products, and the brand itself to a big range of people since it’s always on the move.
There’s a certain charm that food trucks hold, and a juice food truck is an even more novel idea, so this can be an advantage for people wanting to try out a juice truck as they are on their own food truck adventures. You might find more tourists, for instance, visiting your truck.
Within these advantages, however, there are additional downsides that could very well be the reason why you choose to open a juice store instead of a truck.
Not only is it a cramped space to navigate, but it’s also limited in terms of storage space. This means it will limit the amount of produce you can have on-hand, which dictates the number of orders you can make, translating to potentially limiting the number of sales you could otherwise be enjoying when you eventually run out of stock.
Additionally, the amount of water you can have on hand will be limited (if you’re not in a semi-regular space and linked up to utilities, which will be in the rare case of juice truck businesses). Having limited water will also lead to cleaning challenges during operations.
In most cases, leasing a truck means you’ll be getting an older model, rather than a brand-new top-of-the-line truck. The same goes for buying one unless you have the budget to purchase a brand new truck. The older the model, the more potential technical issues there will be. Refrigeration, plumbing, the generator, or even the actual truck’s motor can all break down. This puts a halt to service sometimes up to a week or more, which is, needless to say, detrimental to your business.
Driving around a ‘restaurant on wheels’ is going to pose some risks. Simply hitting a pothole on your drive can cause the refrigerator to open, causing produce to waste and other things to break. If you haven’t taken care to secure everything down, you can be in for a whole range of issues.
Costs can sneak up on juice truck owners when they haven’t fully considered the extra expenses like a commissary (which is where you park your truck overnight/between shifts, recharge the generator, refill your water and clean the inside and outside of the vehicle.
This can often be a monthly fee of about $1000. Then consider the fuel costs, which are much higher than a car as trucks cost more, especially heavier ones that are carrying all of your equipment.
An example of another unforeseen cost that we incurred when first operating a juice truck in Los Angeles (before we switched to a storefront) was getting about $600 worth of parking tickets a month for parking in a space over 2 hours (even though we paid the meter). We added it to our ‘rent’ expense category when doing the numbers each month. Some cities might not have this issue, but know that it can happen.
Now if you’re moving around all the time, or having to change locations (even if you stay in the same neighborhood), it’s going to be hard for people to find you. Even people who would like to be regulars might not be able to keep coming back if they’re not able to find you, or if it’s less accessible for them to go to your new location.
It’s a much more transient situation, which ultimately results in less consistently in sales and less stability in your overall business and expectation of future profit etc.
Taking into account these points above, it feels pertinent to mention again one of the biggest limitations of choosing a juice truck model over a store. You are limiting your potential for profit. With less space to hold less produce and equipment, you can only ever make so much.
There’s a ‘ceiling’ – so to speak – for the profit level you can reach. Even if you have the audience – even if people keep coming to buy – there’ll be a point where you sell out and can’t keep meeting the demand. Whereas in a store, where you have far more space for reserve produce, you will be able to have a might higher yield of produce, and have a much bigger capacity for meeting demand before you sell out. Therefore, the cost of a juice truck business model reduces the benefit of reaching high levels of profit.
This information comes from direct experience with both models of juice businesses. We started out with a juice truck business, until scaling the business and moving up to a storefront model.
From that experience, our personal recommendation is to go for a store.
As mentioned above, the cost of opening juice truck businesses will vary depending on the different factors we outlined based on your context, though it still stands that there is only so much you can make with a truck. With that in mind, starting out with a truck before you open a store can be a good way to test your product and also trial different locations.
In any case, you can help you create a turn-key juice truck concept if this is something you are considering. We help business owners from start to finish, and in any phase of business, turn their juice bar dreams into reality. Reach out to us in the form below to discuss how we can support you.
We also have a youtube video that speaks to the pros and cons of starting a juice truck, where Andrew share’s some insight from what he learned when operating a juice truck in LA.