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What are catering pods?


catering containers with food inside

Small, light and supremely adaptable, catering pods can be a great option for anyone looking to get into the street food game. Let’s take a closer look!

You’ve seen them at shows and admired them at festivals and street food markets. But what exactly are catering pods? If you’re looking to switch up your catering vehicle in the new year, could a pod be perfect for you? Find out here!

As well as top tips on catering pods, trailers and vehicles, the team of insurance specialists at Mobilers can find you the right catering for your needs. Give us a call before you head out to your next big event.

All about catering pods

Mobile catering units, trailers and trucks come in a bewildering variety of shapes and sizes suited to all manner of food businesses. And choosing the right one perfect for your needs and budget can be a tall order for even the most experienced of business owners.

Looking for something cheap and cheerful that can be easily moved from place to place? Then a food cart or trike is an option. Although there won’t be as much space to cook and there’ll probably be a limit to the number of customers you can serve at once.

At the other end of the spectrum are large food trucks or trailers with extensive kitchens and plenty of storage. Although these can be expensive and require more experience to both drive and operate.

But what if you’re looking for something compact, lightweight and easily transportable from location to location with your regular driving licence? Then a catering pod could be the answer for you.

A catering pod is very similar to a food trailer, only smaller, lighter and more easily manoeuvred. And you don’t need a special driving licence or large, powerful vehicle to tow one, a normal licence and standard family car should be sufficient.

As mobile catering vehicles go, they are fairly low maintenance and can be used and adapted in many ways according to the particular needs of your business. Some catering pods come ready fitted with all the correct catering equipment included, while others give you the option to design your own from scratch.

You’ll find catering pods serving up delicious foods and drinks from all around the world – from British pie and mash and American hotdogs to Italian pizzas and Mexican burritos. You name it, you can serve it up from a catering pod.

Catering pods are also really good for selling hot or cold drinks such as fresh fruit smoothies, cocktails and mocktails, delicious hot coffee and hot chocolate and even mulled wine as a winter warmer. The list is almost endless for what you can cook up in a catering pod.

Owing to their small size and versatility, a catering pod can easily stand out from the crowd with your own unique branding and signage. Whether you’re rocking an easy going, surfer-dude vibe or a sleek and chic demeanour, you can quickly tailor your catering pod to reflect the true ethos of your business.

How much are catering pods and where can you buy them from?

A brand-new catering pod can be a good investment if you’re looking for something fresh off the production line and custom built for your food business. While this will be more expensive than a used catering pod, buying new means you’re guaranteed to have one that’s completely compliant with the latest rules and regulations.

Food businesses are tightly regulated to ensure food hygiene and safety, and you’ll really want a catering pod from which you’ll be able to trade legally from day one (as long as you have all of your relevant paperwork and licences in order). If you buy something second-hand then that isn’t always guaranteed.

Companies that sell brand new catering pods include:

  • Caterpods

    Based in South Gloucestershire, Caterpods prides itself on producing funky lightweight trailers and static kiosks. All 100% British built from scratch and backed up by a comprehensive warranty.
  • The Big Coffee

    If you’re looking to get into the lucrative coffee business then this is a company well worth contacting. Its newest and most adaptable product is the Big Coffee Pod which can be used as a mobile coffee or catering trailer, making it perfect to start a mobile coffee or catering trailer business.
  • Big Kahuna

    Catering company Big Kahuna Street Food not only serves up delicious street food, it also produces its own range of food stalls, carts, kiosks and catering pods.

Prices are obviously subject to change and will depend on a range of factors including:

  • The size of the catering pod needed.
  • The interior kitchen build. This could include stainless steel counters and splashbacks, shelving for storage and appliances.
  • Whether a gas supply is needed or not.
  • Equipment requirements such as coffee machines, pizza ovens etc.
  • Graphics and design requirements.

As an example, you can pick up a single axle Caterpod body shell sprayed to a colour of your choice for between £12,969 and £13,325. For a Caterpod with a kitchen you’re looking at between £14,157 and £14,495.

Looking for a second-hand catering pod? Sites such as eBay or Gumtree advertise a large range of catering pods and vehicles, as does the Nationwide Caterers Association.

Be warned, buying used catering units from such sites can be risky, as there are a lot of poor quality units out there. For example, you’ll want to make sure any gas and electric appliances have been regularly tested. Download the NCASS guide to buying a catering unit for further tips and advice or check out our recent guide on gas safety for food trucks. 

Making such a large investment requires protection with the right type of catering market trader insurance from the specialists at Mobilers. Give us a call for a quick quote today.

What are the pros and cons of catering pods?

A flashy catering pod certainly looks the part at any street food event. Smart, strong and easily manoeuvrable, a catering pod could be the perfect option for your business and for serving your yummy street food.

There are many benefits to using a catering pod for your mobile catering business, but also some drawbacks. Read on to find out more about the pros and cons of catering pods.

Pros of catering pods

Super lightweight for easy manoeuvring

Catering pods are lightweight, and can be managed by just one person. You won’t need a whole team of helpers to get it into the right position. Good things come in small packages after all! If you work alone, this could be a good option for you.

Attaches to a family car

There’s no need for a larger vehicle to tow your catering pod. Provided your car has a tow bar then the catering pod is easily attached. Transporting your catering unit from spot to spot has never been easier.

Easy to store

As well as having catering market trader insurance, you’ll want to make sure your catering unit is stored somewhere safe and secure. The compact design of a catering pod makes this much easier to achieve.

Easily transported

Such a lightweight unit means there’s no special driving licence needed to tow it. Double check on the government’s website about what you’ll be able to tow with your type of driving licence. We suggest practising in it before any large events though, just so you don’t have any issues with parking and turning.

Go where other trailers can’t

Provided you have permission, there should be nowhere you can’t reach with your tiny catering pod. If you spot there’s a profit to be made somewhere, you can quickly and easily hitch the catering pod to your car and head off.

Comfortable in all weathers

The great British weather can be tricky at any time of year. But whether it’s a summer rain shower or a cold winter’s morning, your staff will be warm and dry when serving food and drink from your catering pod.

Adaptable for a range of catering businesses

A catering pod can be used right away with even a basic setup. But if you want to adapt or expand it as your catering business needs change, then that’s easy to do, too. Catering pods are extremely versatile.

Be it a barista-style coffee bar, homemade cupcake cafe, traditional pizza parlour, burger shack or classy Prosecco bar – you can transform a catering pod into virtually any mobile catering opportunity. Check out our blog on how to run a mobile bar elsewhere on our blog. 

Unique design guaranteed to attract customers

Catering pods come in a wide variety of colours and can easily be branded with your very own unique logo or graphics wrap. Investing in a bespoke catering pod is a great way to showcase your brand personality and make your customers remember you.

Brings you closer to customers

Catering pods are built to be lower to the ground than other catering vehicles. So, when you’re cooking up a storm you’ll be almost eye level with your customers.

Not only does this help customers see their delicious food being cooked in front of their eyes, it also helps build a personal bond and better communication. A key part of any successful food business.

Affordable start-up

Easy to set up and cheaper than a food truck or a larger catering trailer, a catering pod is relatively affordable when it comes to setting up as a new business venture. If you’ve chosen wisely, then even with the most basic catering pod set up you should be ready to go and make a profit.

Quick delivery

Even a new bespoke catering pod from a manufacturer should be ready for delivery to you within eight to 10 weeks.

Needs limited pitch space

A catering pod is relatively small compared to other mobile catering options, meaning you won’t need so much pitch space to be able to trade. Catering pods really are the perfect answer for crowded locations or when space for pitching is limited.

Easily serviced

While a catering pod will still need repairs from time to time, you won’t need to worry about complicated vehicle repairs in the same way you would with a larger food truck.

Free advertising

Just as with any mobile catering business, towing a catering pod around is essentially a travelling advert. The more places you go, the more your eye-catching pod will be seen and the more potential for profit.

Cons of catering pods

Needs to be towed

Unlike motorised food trucks, you need a separate vehicle to tow the catering pod.

Limit to number of customers you can serve

There’s always going to be a limit to the number of customers a compact catering unit will be able to serve at any one time. If you’re planning on hitting large food festivals or city lunchtime rush hours, then customers may see your long lines and go elsewhere.

Not as much space to cook

A large kitchen team won’t be able to fit in a catering pod. Although you could invest in more than one and spread your business over several sites. After all, your food empire has to start somewhere!

Limited space for storage

Due to the lack of storage space, you might be limited on the amount of stock you can store. So, stock control will be an even more important matter when getting ready for an event.

That said, it’s amazing what you can fit inside a catering pod. And keeping a close eye on stock levels is a good way to manage your budget more efficiently and reduce food waste.

More expensive than a traditional market stall

According to the NCASS, a brand-new aluminium gazebo with fire proofing can cost as little as £500 to £650. That’s a lot less than a catering pod, but it won’t have all the mod cons.

Just as with deciding on the right catering market trader insurance cover for your business, it’s important to always weigh up the pros and cons of any policy. Let Mobilers take the strain and call our experienced team of insurance specialists for guidance today.

7 super sites to pitch your catering pod this year

With the freedom to pitch up in so many different places and at so many different events, choosing where to base your catering pod can be a tricky question to answer.

Some of the most popular places to pitch a catering pod include:

  1. Sporting events and concerts
    Whether people are watching football or listening to their favourite band, delicious food can make the perfect day out.
  2. Festivals
    A captive audience means that festivals can produce big profits for mobile caterers. But if you’re new to the mobile catering game it’s probably best to start with smaller, regional festivals and work your way up. And be sure to read our recent guide to festival risks for catering vans before you go.
  3. Business districts, industrial estates and retail parks
    With limited eating options in the area you could be on to a nice little earner setting up here.
  4. Weddings and private parties
    Mobile caterers can do a roaring trade at private parties, weddings and other celebrations. Securing a fee up-front can take a lot of the guesswork out of trading and can be very lucrative, particularly at quieter times of the year. Our guide on how to cater for 100 guests may be useful to read for a few tips and tricks.
  5. Street food markets
    There are food markets all across the UK - check with the local council or organisers to see how much a pitch would be.
  6. Christmas markets
    It really is the most wonderful time of the year for making a profit with your delicious food.
  7. Parks and university campuses
    Those young bodies and minds need feeding somehow!

Hopefully these suggestions will give you some good ideas of where to pitch your catering pod. But finding the ideal location for your particular business will involve a fair amount of trial and error.

Depending on your branding and what you’re serving up, different locations and events will be more beneficial for your business than others. There really is no one-size-fits-all answer!

When preparing your mobile catering business for any event, be sure to arrange catering market trader insurance before you begin.

At Mobilers, we proudly provide our customers with an array of insurance policies. Why not chat through your catering market trader insurance needs with us today?

12 types of vehicles commonly used for mobile catering

tuk tuk

Catering pods not floating your boat? Check out these alternatives…

  1. Trucks and vans
    From the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter to the Nissan Cargo and Citroen H, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the range of vehicles on offer. Check out the best UK cities for food trucks to pitch up and which vehicles are best for catering van conversions.
  2. Jiffy truck 
    Serve and display hot and cold food with ease, thanks to this nifty vehicle.
  3. Converted horsebox
    Very quirky but very straightforward to convert into a stylish mobile bar or coffee van, a horsebox is a popular choice. Want to know how to convert a horsebox into a mobile bar? Then look no further than our guide.
  4. Airstream
    A favourite among food truck aficionados, these iconic American trailers have been in production since the 1930s. Very chic indeed.
  5. Catering trailer
    A unit specifically designed for mobile catering.
  6. Caravan
    Relatively easy to tow and store compared to other larger trailers.
  7. VW Camper or Westfalia
    Always a head-turner, they’re also surprisingly spacious inside and already well designed for catering use.
  8. Piaggio Ape
    An Italian three-wheeled light commercial scooter. What could be cuter than that?
  9. Shipping container
    Not exactly a vehicle, but when welded onto the back of a truck they can make a great mobile catering unit.
  10. Tuk Tuk
    Very popular as taxis in South-East Asia, when converted they can also perform well as a small mobile catering business.
  11. Shepherd hut
    Popular for its unique look, if you’re looking for something a bit different then these towable huts can be ideal for street food mobile catering.
  12. Trikes and bikes
    Perfect for a summer’s day, there’s nothing better than riding your food bike or trike around town. Ice cream anyone? Check out our recent blog on how to start up your own ice cream business.

Catering market trader insurance is perfect for catering pods, but if you invest in one of these vehicles, be sure to speak to the Mobilers team to check exactly what you need.

Mobilers can find the right cover for a range of catering businesses including:

  • Catering van insurance
  • Catering trailer insurance
  • Burger van insurance
  • BBQ insurance
  • Mobile bar insurance
  • Coffee van insurance
  • Jiffy truck insurance
  • Ice cream trike insurance

Get great value catering market trader insurance from Mobilers

Our catering market trader insurance specialists are dedicated to finding cover that’s just right for you and your business.

Policies arranged through us are covered for mobile catering and we offer quotes for 12-month policies.

Get a quote for today.

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