Adelaide food regulations a mobile feast

By Paul Hemsley

Adelaide City Council has issued new guidelines for the city’s mobile food vendors to try and ensure they operate without eating the lunch of established fixed premises businesses.

The council has been actively encouraging street food vendors – such as coffee carts, burger vans and gourmet cuisine – to hawk their fare across the city through the ‘Splash Adelaide’ pilot project to trial whether they will work in the long term.

However the appearance of the new-age purveyors of meals-on-wheels has sometimes caused indigestion for existing bricks and mortar eateries because of the potential for mobile vendors to cannibalise their trade while paying substantially lower overheads including rates and council licence fees.

Adelaide’s plan to foster a working relationship with mobile food vendors aims to satisfy both fixed and mobile businesses alike.

The Australian Productivity Commission asserted in July 2012 that mobile businesses were subject to more stringent regulations than fixed food businesses.

The Productivity Commission’s report ‘Performance Benchmarking of Australian Business Regulation: Role of Local Government as Regulator’ produced a catalogued of local government restrictions it said are imposed on mobile food vendors.

These included minimising the mobile food vendors’ ability to compete with fixed food premises by not permitting mobile food vans that prepare food, restricting trading to certain streets and not permitting vendors near shopping centres.

However Adelaide City Council’s City Culture and Community Services Committee voted in favour of a move to introduce a set of guidelines for mobile food vendors to create a more “streamlined registration process”.

Adelaide City Council Mayor Stephen Yarwood said mobile food vendors have helped “enliven” the city over the past 18 months.

“While we want to give people the opportunity to experiment, the new guidelines will help us work more professionally with mobile food vendors,” Mr Yarwood.

Mr Yarwood said Splash Adelaide has given entrepreneurs a helping hand to get started and helped “foster different and exciting food experiences on city streets”.

Mobile business Chimichurri Grill director, Greg Tillman said the proposed changes will increase the levels of professionalism and accountability among vendors.

“The introduction of a seasonal permit fee is a small price to pay for a better way of operating and will help vendors take their businesses more seriously. Council has been very supportive so far,” Mr Tillman said.

If council endorses the guidelines on 12 February 2013, they will be available for public consultation from 18 February to 10 March 2013 and will be implemented from 1 July 2013.

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