- Berlin-based Walkingboxes is making sustainable food trailers out of shipping containers.
- Walkingboxes founder Daniel Lorch used research from the tiny home industry to shape the project.
- The startup has seen inquiries from around the world since its December 2020 soft launch.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Shipping containers can sometimes find new life as a tiny home, but now, a Berlin-based startup is turning the metal containers into food trucks.
Walkingboxes â€” which was founded amid the pandemic in 2020 â€” makes sustainable “mobile kitchens” out of shipping containers to make “good food democratic,” according to the company. And there’s likely no better time to introduce a new food truck or trailer: outdoor dining during COVID-19 is still the only dining option in some cities.
The project originally began a few months before COVID-19, and the team was in its “funding and prototype phase” when the first lockdown hit. Despite coronavirus pandemic-related troubles,Walkingboxes’ founder and designer, Daniel Lorch, kept moving forward.
“Since outdoor dining is less affected by the restrictions and people from the catering industry are less busy at the moment, many are dreaming of their own street food business â€” including top chefs,” Lorch told Insider in an email interview.
Lorch believes the food truck industry will come out strong after the coronavirus pandemic as outdoor dining and takeout have dominated throughout COVID-19.
“Even if one doesn’t wish for the coronavirus, it is a driving force for innovations and the rethinking and questioning of deadlocked structures,” Lorch wrote.
Lorch became inspired to pursue the endeavour when his South Korean mother was looking to start a Korean food truck in Germany.
While looking for a food truck, Lorch realised none of the available options offered something that “met the demands of a new wave of gastronomes in terms of design, sustainability, and individuality,” according to the startup.
Lorch got to work designing a unit that would fit their needs.
The designs then received positive responses, pushing Lorch to create a food trailer that could be configurable and customisable.
A few years prior to starting Walkingboxes, Lorch considered getting into the tiny home industry, which has also boomed during COVID-19.
However, Lorch ultimately decided to stay out of the tiny home market for various reasons …
… but was able to use some of his background and research in tiny homes to create Walkingboxes.
The design-forward trailer looks obviously different from any typical food truck. This uniqueness was intentional.
“We come from the cultural sector and know many young star gastronomy chefs personally,” Lorch wrote. “We know about the wishes and problems of this special target group.”
The shipping container’s durable steel material translates well as a food truck, according to the company.
The trailers are also lightweight, which means they can be towed by a station wagon or minivan.
You may be wondering how a shipping container can end up being so lightweight.
The answer is obvious: Walkingboxes’ shipping containers aren’t used.
Instead, the team manufactures the containers by using thinner metal sheets, therefore cutting back on weight.
If you happen to be a shipping container purist, don’t fret. Walkingboxes’ containers still adhere to some ISO standard specs for shipping containers.
Unlike a typical food truck, over 90% of a Walkingboxes trailer is made of recyclable or biodegradable materials.
The trailer was also designed to be semi-customisable and modular, allowing chefs to tailor their mobile kitchens to their own cooking styles.
The customisable cooking space can accommodate a variety of appliances and tools, allowing chefs to create anything from vegan ice cream to baked goods to ramen.
Even the exterior was taken into account: the units all have 10-inch aluminium rims for a decreased loading height.
An extra countertop can also be hooked to the front of the shipping container …
… and hydraulic gas struts make opening and closing the front service area easier.
The units come in three straightforward sizes: small, medium, or large.
Prices vary by size and customisation, but a small Walkingboxes trailer — which sits at 10.5 feet by 7.2 feet — starts at €27,000, almost $US32,750.
Since its unveiling, the startup has received positive responses from the public.
Many of its requests are coming from younger chefs who’ve worked at high-end eateries.
Chefs are able to implement smaller menus and more affordable meals by using a food truck instead of a brick and mortar shop, according to Lorch.
“The price, but also the elimination of reservation and table etiquette, makes it much easier to access good food that is not only healthy and filling but also expands our range of reference,” Lorch explained.
Walkingboxes is now seeing global inquiries and will be delivering its first units to Germany and Switzerland.
You may have to wait a bit longer before you see a Walkingboxes trailer in Canada or the US as the company is still working on a way to send it overseas.
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