Struggles of street food vendors in Helsinki: a study of food truck and fixed stall vending using municipal land

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Street food has been promoted by the City of Helsinki as a new urban culture that is believed to enhance the image of the city. While fixed stall vending in market squares is as old as the city itself, food truck vending is a new phenomenon in Helsinki. In lieu of celebrating the emergence of this new urban culture, this article aims to make visible the struggles that food truck vendors are encountering and at the same time, explore factors that determine how these vendors operate and exist. In particular, it considers the types and effects of land tenure; the regulatory framework; the elements of urban form; and the environment and the demographics of the area, including who the vendors are and the types of food that they sell, as key factors. The results demonstrate that the struggles of food truck vendors in Helsinki stem from the permit system that grants the vendors the right to use designated municipal land for vending but does not guarantee them secured vending space. Also, the vendors must obtain water and electricity by themselves. The City of Helsinki neither places a ceiling on the number of permits given to food truck vendors nor requires a mix of food types sold in each vending area. Therefore, food truck vendors must compete for vending space and customers. This article argues that the City of Helsinki overlooks the diverse interests and needs of street food vendors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)801-823
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Street vendors
  • street food
  • food trucks
  • municipal land
  • land tenure
  • Helsinki
  • US
  • 5142 Social policy
  • 5203 Global Development Studies

Cite this