Face off: Will food trucks benefit Hong Kong?

Face off: Will food trucks benefit Hong Kong?

Financial Secretary John Tsang put forward the idea of food trucks for Hong Kong in this year's budget address, but is it a good idea? Two students weigh the pro's and con's

Rai Arlin L, 17, St Margaret's Girls' College 

A food truck is a vehicle with the machines needed to make takeaway food. In other words, it's a moving restaurant. 

Food trucks not only allow people to buy meals, but also often provide a range of fusion foods. Food trucks are famous for mixing cuisines in unusual ways, allowing people to taste something unique. They are especially common in the United States. California is well known for its variety of trucks in its cities; last week, the city of Sioux Falls in South Dakota held its first Food Truck Friday, which is due to become a monthly event. 

Food trucks tend to offer high-quality, low-cost, interesting food. Hong Kong people love food, so I definitely think they will work in Hong Kong. 

Food trucks are a cheaper alternative to conventional restaurants. They offer entrepreneurs the chance to start a business at a lower cost in this city, where sky-high property prices prevent many new businesses from succeeding, or even starting, and continue a cycle of increasing prices for consumers. 

As well as reducing the cost of setting up a business, because the truck can be driven around, the owners can go to different locations to attract more customers. This will also offer customers more food choices.

Sceptics might say that food trucks could be less hygienic than restaurants, making it difficult to maintain food safety standards. But the same holds true for established restaurants, because it is no secret that they put less emphasis on hygiene than profit-making and efficiency. In fact, these food trucks might be even cleaner, as they use disposable plates and cutlery rather than washing up.

Undoubtedly, food trucks have their own faults, but its merits cannot be ignored.

Joy Pamnani, 16, PLK Ngan Po Ling College   

In his 2015 budget speech, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah proposed the setting up of food trucks in Hong Kong. As a foodie myself, although I'd be excited to see more options on my al fresco dining list, I don't think food trucks will be very beneficial to Hong Kong in the long run. 

Hong Kong is a very small city, with narrow roads and overcrowding. Food trucks may be popular in many countries, but Hong Kong simply doesn't have enough space to accommodate them, and bringing them onto our streets will just make our existing overcrowding worries worse. They will take traffic problems to a whole new level, especially as the government proposes that the trucks operate in busy districts such as Central.

This scheme will create unfair competition in the food industry. The set-up cost is high, and small business may not be able to afford it. Even if they can, richer companies might pay more to take the best spots, preventing smaller businesses from flourishing. And then there's the competition with existing local restaurants.

What's more, food trucks threaten the survival of local food culture.

With the government taking away many hawker licences in recent years, the number of hawkers on Hong Kong's streets has already dwindled to an all-time low. Allowing food trucks to roam the streets will further endanger these traditional sellers. We risk losing Hong Kong's priceless culinary treasures, from fishballs and egg waffles to milk tea.

While some may argue the introduction of food trucks will benefit tourism by diversifying Hong Kong's local food scene, I beg to differ. As an international city, I believe Hong Kong's food scene is already diverse enough, and food trucks would not add much to the spectrum. Sure, they'll give people a chance to eat al fresco, but many restaurants already offer outdoor dining, or you could simply eat takeaway food in a park. 

I believe any advantages to this scheme are outweighed by its many disadvantages.

If you're interested in debating for Face Off, email Heidi with "Face Off application" in the subject at heidi.yeung@scmp.com

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Will food trucks benefit Hong Kong?


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