Urban lifestyles, increasing distances between home and the workplace, women at work, and changes in family cohesion are all factors increasing the demand for processed, ready-to-eat food. This has resulted in a very active food processing industry in the urban sector.
Few countries have specific regulations for street foods and vendors handle their businesses according to informal rules dictated by their social environment in polluted sites with poor environmental hygiene. Thus vendors operate in a permanent state of uncertainty and their vulnerability inhibits investment and long-term development of their activity.
Many small street food vendors can however make a living for themselves and their families by preparing and selling foods. If the quality of their products can be assured, their activities will provide adequate and inexpensive nourishment for many urban inhabitants.