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Getting Started as Food Vendor at a UK Music Festival.

Andy Robertson

Running a food pitch at a music festival can be daunting, challenging and rewarding but how can a new food vendor get started in this business. Vendor pitch space fees provide much needed revenue to organisers and vendor applications are usually oversubscribed. How can a new vendor secure a pitch at a music festival in this competitive environment?

If the right music festival is chosen a food vendors can make some impressive income from a 3-day event. It’s not unusual for a good food vendor to make anywhere from £3,000 to more than £10,000 over 3 days but this is dependent on the size of the festival, number of visitors and associated costs. For those new to this potentially lucrative venture there are some key steps to consider.

Application Process.
With more than 500 music festivals taking place in the UK every year there are a wide variety of potential events to consider, and vendors should prioritise their criteria which may include location, pitch cost and visitor numbers. Once a shortlist has been created vendors should research the application process for each event, some are very competitive, and applications may open well in advance of the festival dates. Completing an application can be a detailed and time-consuming process as organisers want to see evidence of any required licences and certifications associated with food preparation and sales.

Festival organisers often select vendors based on the food they offer so that they end up with a wide variety of food types and range of costs for festival-goers. This may range from simple low-cost burgers to high end and expensive speciality cuisines. For food suppliers it will help to differentiate what’s on offer so making something that is exotic, organic and affordable can make the application stand out.

Health & Safety.
There are very strict health and safety protocols for food preparation and supply in the UK and this will usually mean having the correct certifications and licences. Typically, a pitch space should have a hand washing station along with temperature-controlled food storage facilities with equipment and surfaces being kept clean at all times. Some festivals do get visits from health and safety officials who will check that food vendors are operating as required by the prevailing regulations.

Practical Considerations. 
Some festival organisers can offer a variety of plug-in options for pitch spaces which may include, electricity, water, washing facilities and other equipment which they will charge for. Alternatively new vendors can consider bringing in their own equipment which may add to logistical transport and installation considerations. Many seasoned festival food vendors opt for a mobile kitchen arrangement, but these may require substantial investment depending on the type of vehicle, there are cheaper alternatives available like kitchen equipped trailers for example. Further investment will be required for the provision of cooking appliances and, utensils. Accurate calculations and planning will be needed to ensure that sufficient ingredient stocks are purchased and that suitably qualified staff are available over multiple days.

Matching the Festival. 
In any food vendor’s application organisers are also looking for demonstrable commitments to sustainability and diversity along with a stated philosophy on the food they offer. Food vendors should have an overall ethos that aligns with the music festival and should not be underestimated when completing an application. 

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Kampus Production via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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