Updated: Mar 5
Festivals are big business these days but what are the costs for food stall vendors?
Festivals have been growing year on year over the last decade and food stalls have become just as popular as the headline music acts.
You will find pretty much any sort of food you can think of (and some you may have not) and if you choose the right product can be on to a real money-maker.
So how much does it cost to have a food stall at festivals?
Based on survey results from 42 food stall vendors the cost for a food stall at festivals like Glastonbury range between £3000 and £17000, with an average cost of £8500.
The range in food trader pitch fee's is due to a number of variables such as the size and location of the pitch and what type of products are sold.
There are also and a few other things to consider such as pricing structure and operating costs, which I discuss in this article.
How Much does it cost to have a food stall at festivals?
There is no single flat fixed cost when it comes to having a food stall or food truck at a festival and the cost will be influenced by a number of different factors.
Pitch size/type of vehicle
Event organizers calculate pitch fees and allocate trading space according to the dimensions of your food stall or food truck.
So, for example, a standard 3x3m gazebo is often the smallest size space offered, which would be cheaper than a pitch size that is 3m x 6m.
For a larger concession or catering trailer, the cost will be even more.
Location of pitch
Where food stalls are located within a festival is very important for getting footfall and therefore sells.
You are more likely to sell a lot of products in a busy area close to the main stage than you would in a more secluded or less popular part of the festival.
Event organizers, therefore, take this into consideration when deciding on pricing.
Type of product
Event organisers also take into account what type of food or drink you sell.
For hot food, you would expect to make more sales and higher profits as its the most popular type of product.
On the other hand drinks, like juices and smoothies have a lower retail price, which means you have to sell almost double to make the same amount of profit.
The organizer will often take this into consideration, and if they don't make a case for this when bidding for the pitch.
Tip: Some pitch fee's at festivals (especially new and relatively unknown festivals) can be negotiated so don't be afraid to haggle.
As food stalls and food trucks are mini mobile restaurants you will obviously need the power to cook your product.
Food traders use gas and electricity to power their equipment and most often a combination of both.
The electricity will be provided onsite, by the festival, in the form of generators and the price is determined but how many watts or amps you will be using.
Aside from the fixed trading fee's, you will also have to take into account the operational costs of having a food stall at a festival, such as staff, stock and travel.
If you are trading at say a four-day festival you will need staff to help you run your stall.
The number of staff you need will depend on the size of your operation and you will also have to think about rotation (keeping up will serving whilst allowing staff to have lunch breaks).
For a four day festival, you are going to have to invest in a lot of stock to make sure you don't run out and make enough sales to turn a profit.
Depending on what type of food or drink you sell will obviously influence how much you spend on stock
For example, if you use a lot of meat this will be more expensive than say a vegan food stall operation.
At some of the large festivals like Glastonbury, you can buy stock on site but this can be more expensive.
Festivals are located all over the country and food traders come from far and wide to sell their products and this means travel costs.
Again it's hard to give fixed costs with this as food stall traders will be travelling from different parts of the country.
As you can imagine, travelling from Bristol to London will be cheaper to travel than Bristol to Leeds.
Different pricing models
When it comes to outdoor events such as festivals there is also different pricing structures event organiser use to calculate how much food stalls should pay.
Fixed trader fee
This is the most common way food stalls will pay to be at a festival and is based on the variables we discussed earlier such as pitch size, location, products sold etc.
A percentage of sales
Instead of a fixed fee, some event organisers will ask for a percentage of sales in order to secure a pitch.
This is often at around 10-15% of sales, but I have been quoted when applying for pitches as high as 25%.
In my experience, this is one of the easiest pricing structures to negotiate against with event organizers.
A percentage of sales + fixed fee
This pricing structure is not as common as the other two but you may still come across it.
Basically, a food stall pays a fixed fee based on a pricing structure, upfront plus a percentage of sells at the end of the event.
This can be quite a good way to spread the risk between the food stall trader and event organizer as the final costs of the pitch will be determined by what you sell.
Feed the crew
This is probably the least common way to get into an event and is often for food traders that may have a good relationship and have been trading at the same festival for years.
As the name suggests instead of paying for the pitch upfront the food stall or truck feeds the staff who are working for the festival such as the backstage crew or ushers.
Food stall costs for Glastonbury festival: Survey results
Getting to an exact figure for how much it costs for a food stall at a festival is difficult because as discussed depends on a wide number of factors.
So, to get a better idea I decided to do my own bit of research into food stall costs at Glastonbury festival.
I surveyed members of a street food and food truck Facebook group I am a member of and asked how much they paid for a food stall at Glastonbury.
The surveys results are as followed.
Question: Have you ever traded at Glastonbury? If so how much was the pitch fee?
Number of respondents: 42
Price range: £3000 - £1700
Average price: £8500
Source: Street food trader Facebook group
Glastonbury is the most popular and therefore one of the most expensive festivals for a food stall.
So these prices will not be representative of all festivals and the cost for smaller events will be lower.
This is also a pretty small sample and the respondents didn't disclose what type of vehicles they used.
How much do food vendors make at festivals?
A good rule of thumb is for food vendors to make around 30-50% net profit from a festival.
Simple test example:
Pitch fee: £8000
Stock/staff/travel costs: £8000
Food sales: £32,000
NET PROFIT = £16,000 (@50%)
However, again the amount of money food vendors make at festivals will vary depending on the overheads like staff, stock, travel and the cost of the pitch fee.
What are the most popular festivals in the UK?
Below is a list of some of the most popular festivals in the UK, with a link to their website.
If you are interested in selling food at any of these festivals you can get all the relevant information on food stall costs from the event organizers.
Reading & Leeds Festival
Isle of Wight Festival
It is hard to put an exact figure on how much it costs to have a food stall at festivals.
The pitch size, where the food stall is located and the product being sold all influence how much event organizers charge food vendors to be at a festival.
Festivals also differ in size and attendance, meaning the overheads for organizer will be different which influences the cost of pitch fees.
It's worth bearing in mind big events are always a gamble and a lot of the variables we have talked about will determine if its a success or not.
But if done right it can be more than worth it!