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Setting up a food truck business in New Zealand has never been more popular, and for good reason. It can be a fantastic and fulfilling experience to run a food truck. A mobile business offers diversity and the chance to be adaptive and flexible. Likewise, you also have the opportunity to build your food truck’s unique brand. However, in New Zealand, there are certain legal obligations to be aware of when planning for a new food truck business. 

This article will explain key considerations when setting up a food truck business. These include:

  • getting the required licences; 
  • setting up a business structure that suits your goals; and 
  • protecting your food truck’s brand with intellectual property protections. 

Getting Your Mobile Trading and Food Licences in Order

The dream of turning an old truck into a food preparation and sale machine on the local reserve is undoubtedly a romantic notion. However, there are certain legal requirements and licences to obtain before getting your food truck business off the ground. These required licences include:

  • a mobile trading licence; 
  • a food registration; and 
  • a food control plan.

Mobile Trading Licence

Any mobile shop or commercial services business, which wants to trade in a public place, needs a mobile trading licence. Most food trucks move around regularly, hence, they will need this kind of licence. It allows you to trade from a particular location that you get approval for. You can have up to five locations on one licence. 

Note that a mobile trading licence will let you sell food at the location in question but will not permit you to park wherever you like. You still need to follow parking restrictions and road rules. You also do not get a lease, designated use of the land, or any kind of permanent location on public property.

Food Registration

As well as a mobile trading licence, you will need to register your food truck with a food registration authority to sell food. These authorities include entitles like the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries or Auckland Council. You can inquire with any such entity if you are unsure exactly who to speak with for your business’ circumstances. 

Food Control Plan

Additionally, you will need a food control plan in place. A food control plan sets out what steps your business is taking to ensure that it is making safe food. In the plan, you will need to identify health risks and show how your business manages and limits them. If this sounds complicated, do not worry. You can engage support services to fill these out. Most businesses use template food control plans from templates provided by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Setting Up Your Business Structure

You have several different options when structuring your food truck business. The most common examples of food trucks are companies, sole traders, and partnerships. Each offers different advantages and disadvantages.

A company structure is more complicated to set up in the first place and involves some additional costs and filing requirements. However, a company structure can let your food truck business scale up faster. If you want to take on investment and financial loans to build a food truck empire, a company is the best structure for quick growth.

By contrast, a sole trader structure is straightforward to set up and has minimal startup complications. If you are looking to run your food truck by yourself or with little assistance, this structure may be best, particularly at first. On the other hand, if you want to run your food truck with friends who want to go in on the business with you, a partnership can reflect this arrangement the best. Partnerships are also easy to set up and help share responsibility and liability between different co-founders.

Protecting Your Food Truck’s Brand

Finally, you should consider protecting your food truck’s name and brand once you develop a creative or effective idea. Food trucks often live and die by their unique name. This is especially crucial in the beginning when you are looking to build a reputation and public awareness of your work. Intellectual property protection is important and crucial to your business’ long-term success. Consider protecting your unique brand with a trade mark. You can get specialist advice on this from a commercial or intellectual property lawyer. 

Key Takeaways

Setting up a food truck business in New Zealand involves a few regulatory and legal obstacles, but these can clear the way for a successful business. You need to ensure that you have the proper licences and registrations when starting a food truck business, including a mobile trading licence and a food registration. This will involve a food control plan and other steps around food safety. Ensure you carefully consider how to structure your new business and consider protecting your food truck’s brand through intellectual property protections. 

If you would like more information about setting up a new food truck business, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 0800 005 570 or complete the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a mobile trading licence to operate a food truck?

Yes, you will need a mobile trading licence to sell or trade in a public place, as food trucks typically do.

Do you need a food licence to operate a food truck?

Yes, you need a food licence in New Zealand to sell food.

What business structure is best for food trucks?

Food truck businesses can suit a range of different structures. Likewise, the most suitable structure for your business will depend on its founders’ goals. A growth-orientated team may look to form a company early, which suits outside investment and external finance. However, a group of friends may want to form a more straightforward partnership to trial their exciting new idea for a food truck business.

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