How to Start an Ice Cream Truck

There was nothing more exciting than hearing the sound of the ice cream truck driving through your neighborhood as a kid. While ice cream trucks bring joy and much-loved traditions to kids each summer, they also bring potential business opportunities. Starting an ice cream truck business can be a rewarding business, especially if you enjoy interacting with children and families. Plus, if you have an idea to make your truck stand out from the competition, you could enjoy a strong business powered by plenty of repeat customers.

Business Overview

Ice cream trucks offer convenient, tasty products to customers. Unlike brick and mortar ice cream parlors, trucks can travel to a variety of locations and offer more of a grab-and-go service. While quickly serving customers is a priority, trucks can also offer custom-made products, like sundaes and milkshakes. Some trucks offer pre-packaged ice cream bars and treats, while others essentially act as full-service ice cream parlors on wheels.

Because they are mobile, ice cream trucks may market to customers in many different locations. Beaches and festivals are popular options, but some trucks also do private events like employee appreciation days and parties. Many trucks park and remain in one place, but others may take a more mobile approach, traveling regular routes through neighborhoods.

With food trucks growing in popularity, competition within the ice cream truck industry is increasing, too. When designing your business model, look for a way that you can make your truck stand out. Consider offering specialty products or a special experience, like hand-dipped and custom-topped ice cream bars, to appeal to customers. Stocking products that other trucks don’t have, like dairy-free ice creams, can encourage repeat business when your truck follows a reliable route or can frequently be found in particular locations.

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Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the street vendors industry, which includes ice cream trucks, experienced a 3.4% growth from 2015 to 2020. Though the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in 2020, the industry experienced robust growth during the rest of the five-year period. This growth was due to increased demand for unique foods.

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IBIS World predicts that the ice cream business industry in the United States will rebound from the decline caused by the pandemic and experience growth from 2020 to 2025. Multiple factors, including renewed interest in food trucks, increased consumer spending, and the recovery of the economy, will all contribute to this growth.

Industry Trends

The ice cream industry is evolving, and an ice cream truck that can embrace some of the newest trends can stay competitive and appeal to consumers. According to Barry Callebaut, classic flavors like vanilla and chocolate are hugely popular, but there’s increased demand for low-calorie ice creams that consumers can enjoy with less guilt. Similarly, non-dairy ice creams allow consumers who are on specialty diets to enjoy this treat. Some consumers are now seeking out ice creams that have added health benefits, including ingredients like probiotics, protein, fiber, and even CBD.


While healthier options are on-trend, rich indulgences are also gaining in popularity. An ice cream truck may want to offer indulgent mix-ins for both ice creams and milkshakes to take advantage of this trend. Savory or salty add-ins, like potato chips and salted pretzels, are popular at the moment. Customization options are also increasingly valued. Trucks can embrace this trend by offering personalized dipped and topped bars, and sundaes and shakes that are made to order.

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Target Market

An ice cream truck’s target market will partially depend on its business model. On a more general basis, a truck will market to consumers looking for convenience – that market can consist of kids and adults in a specific location, like a beach or festival. If an ice cream truck adopts a specialty, that can further define its target market. A truck that offers rich mix-ins and more premium options will have a different target market than a truck that offers pre-made ice cream bars and treats to beachgoers.

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Checklist for Starting an Ice Cream Truck


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About the Author: Thien Bao

Hello, my name is ThienBao. I am a freelance developer specializing in various types of code.