KANSAS CITY — Tortilla and flatbread gross sales noticed robust progress within the early phases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as at-home cooking elevated, and now that eating places have reopened and shoppers have returned to common actions, the foodservice aspect has picked up.

“In 2021, eating places got here again, however not essentially on the expense of at-home cooking,” defined Jim Kabbani, chief government officer, Tortilla Business Affiliation. “What we’re seeing now’s a state of affairs the place retail and at-home tortilla consumption stays robust, whereas foodservice has come again. And the additive results of these two tendencies is an general improve in consumption.”

Whole retail greenback gross sales for tortillas and flatbreads decreased barely, falling 0.3% to simply beneath $3.8 billion, in line with IRI knowledge for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2021. Tortilla gross sales fell 0.9% to roughly $3 billion, whereas flatbread gross sales rose 4.8% to $365 million. Many of the progress for tortillas and flatbreads was within the perimeter/contemporary meals space, with gross sales leaping 8% to roughly $256 million.

“That contemporary space is simply 7% of tortilla and flatbread gross sales, so it’s very small, nevertheless it’s rising sooner than in aisle,” defined Melissa Altobelli, principal, shopper insights, dairy and bakery vertical, IRI. “That’s as a result of a whole lot of self-serve areas are open now, and likewise shoppers are going out and celebrating extra, shopping for merchandise for events or holidays.”

Greenback gross sales for each classes grew within the final quarter whereas quantity gross sales decreased, which Ms. Altobelli attributes to inflation. She expects this pattern to proceed into early 2022 earlier than leveling out later within the yr.

“Quantity will most likely proceed to point out decline as a consequence of inflation,” Ms. Altobelli stated. “Increased costs imply folks have to chop again, and elevated shopper mobility means individuals are consuming out extra. However as we return to eating places and discover different locations to buy these merchandise, there shall be a softening in quantity decreases, too. We expect by the tip of 2022, tortillas and flatbreads could have returned to regular, pre-2019 charges of quantity.”

Flatbreads flourish

Flatbreads’ wholesome progress in 2021 was pushed by a handful of manufacturers that efficiently launched new makes use of and types of the bread to shoppers.

Toronto-based FGF Manufacturers’ Stonefire model drove a lot of the class’s progress, Ms. Altobelli stated. The bakery posted 40.4% progress for a complete of $64.8 million in gross sales in 2021, in line with IRI. The model gives a well-liked line of naan breads, which are available unique, roasted garlic and complete grain, in addition to mini naans and naan dippers.

Naan is only one instance of producers efficiently introducing flatbreads from totally different culinary backgrounds to satisfy shopper demand.

“We’re seeing a whole lot of new international types rising and gaining prominence with audiences which are much less conversant in them,” stated Claire Lancaster, senior strategist, foods and drinks, WGSN. “Manakish, which is a spherical flatbread kind of like an Arab pizza, is seeing a whole lot of progress. We’re seeing northern Chinese language flatbreads popping up, Italian flatbreads, even some African types.”

For instance, Ridgefield, NJ-based Toufayan Bakeries gives tandoori, an Indian-style flatbread. The bakery is experimenting with including Mediterranean flavors to its flatbreads as nicely.

“Introducing Mediterranean flavors like zaatar together with your flatbread, I may see as a doable pattern for 2022,” stated Karen Toufayan, vp of promoting and gross sales, Toufayan Bakeries. “So it’s not only a plain tandoori, however a zaatar-flavored tandoori.”

Because the flatbread class expands, shoppers shall be launched to loads of new types and flavors from across the world.

“There’s a whole lot of several types of flatbreads which are much less acquainted to the North American viewers proper now that we predict will develop in recognition within the subsequent few years,” Ms. Lancaster stated.

Increasing the wholesome halo

Tortillas and flatbreads are perceived by many shoppers as more healthy than conventional breads, regardless of the very fact they’re usually greater in energy, salt and fats when put next aspect by aspect. On the similar time, shoppers are getting savvier — analyzing their product labels to higher perceive what they’re consuming and what’s perceived as wholesome. Client demand for gluten-free, vegan and low-carb tortillas and flatbreads has elevated as a end result.

In response, bakeries are introducing merchandise that meet these calls for and preserve the class’s wholesome halo. Toufayan Bakeries has seen nice success with its wholesome choices.

“Our gluten-free tortilla wrap is our No. 1 vendor on-line, and a really shut second is our complete wheat pita bread,” Ms. Toufayan stated. “The largest tendencies are Sensible Grain and low carb, no doubt.”

The bakery additionally gives low-carb Sensible Pockets, which Ms. Toufayan describes as a standard American model of a pita bread, made with sprouted grains like their low-carb wrap.

Mission Carb Balance Flour tortilla

Mission Meals, Irving, Texas, additionally gives “Carb Stability” tortillas that are available flour, complete wheat, spinach herb and sundried tomato basil. The tortillas earn a wonderful supply of fiber declare and have as little as 3 grams of internet carbs. The favored line elevated its gross sales by 26.9% within the newest interval to $307.4 million, in line with IRI. Gruma SAB de CV, Monterrey, Mexico, which owns Mission Meals, stated it plans to introduce extra of those more healthy merchandise.

“The shopper base we’ve got been in a position to construct for our better-for-you line has enabled us to create some steady ranges of progress for these merchandise, which is a part of our technique to extend their composition within the portfolio from single digits to 25% presently,” stated Adolfo Fritz, Gruma’s investor relations officer in an earnings name final October. “Our plan is to maintain on pushing ahead to additional broaden the composition with these merchandise, making our portfolio much more worthwhile over time.”

Flour and corn varieties nonetheless dominate the tortilla class, however producers at the moment are providing more healthy grain-free options.

Mission just lately expanded its better-for-you line with almond flour and cauliflower tortillas which are gluten-free and vegan pleasant. And Siete Household Meals, Austin, Texas, which grew its greenback gross sales by 54.5% in 2021, additionally gives almond, chickpea and cassava flour tortillas.

Flatbreads have been a bit slower to the grain-free and vegan house, Mr. Kabbani famous. However that is starting to alter. For instance, Dealer Joe’s now gives a cauliflower skinny, a flatbread cauliflower substitute that’s gluten-free.

Toufayan Bakeries can be paving the way in which with its better-for-you flatbreads.

“All of our flatbreads are naturally vegan. We’re just about the one vegan naan bread that’s out within the market, along with our naturally vegan wraps, pita breads and tandoori,” Ms. Toufayan stated. “We actually verify off the field for a requirement, and there’s a demand for plant-based meals.”

Total, the well being claims that posted robust greenback progress for tortillas and wraps embody excessive fiber (20.8%), no sugar (26.9%), sweetener-free (23.3%), no synthetic components (10.9%) and gluten-free (7.8%), in line with IRI. Low-calorie claims additionally noticed vital progress for tortillas, with 5 to 40 energy gaining probably the most (84.1%).

In search of authenticity

More healthy tortilla and flatbread choices are in excessive demand, however the stresses of the pandemic have additionally left many shoppers desirous to indulge.

“Customers throughout this pandemic try to deal with themselves a bit and search for distinctive tastes,” Ms. Altobelli stated. “Persons are in search of premiumness and authenticity.”

Stonefire has had nice success advertising its flatbreads round phrases like these.

“[Stonefire products] don’t have a whole lot of well being claims like low-carb or excessive fiber, however what they tout is that they’re a premium model, which is obvious by their packaging and that they’re oven-baked with genuine style,” Ms. Altobelli stated.

Customers worth high quality, in addition to simplicity in the case of their tortillas and flatbreads. Higher-for-you components are vital, however simply as vital to many shoppers is an ingredient checklist they will perceive.

Tortilla Land, Springdale, Ariz., highlights its tortillas’ simplicity, labeling them as straightforward to cook dinner and made with simply 5 easy components. Posting 13.9% progress within the newest interval, Tortilla Land’s success exhibits that much less is oftentimes extra on this class.

Stepping outdoors the field

Whereas conventional breads are seen as a flexible base ingredient that can be utilized in every kind of dishes, many shoppers nonetheless consider tortillas as a meals distinctive to Mexican delicacies. The identical is true for flatbreads like pitas and naans as Mediterranean or Indian staples.

Producers try to alter this, nonetheless, making it recognized that tortillas and flatbreads are way over their space of origin and could be each bit as versatile.

“Just a few years in the past, we began pondering of tortillas as a meals supply platform versus simply meals itself,” Mr. Kabbani stated. “And that proper there broadens how folks take into consideration tortillas.”

CraftMark Bakery, Indianapolis, applies the identical philosophy to its flatbreads and wraps.

“The great thing about flatbreads and wraps are of their versatility,” stated Liz Rayo, the bakery’s senior vp of promoting and innovation. “They’re actually a clean canvas for therefore many menu concepts.”

Flatbreads are rightfully appreciated as a world meals with roots within the Mediterranean and Asia, however Ms. Rayo famous a whole lot of the bakery’s emphasis is on exhibiting shoppers that flatbreads will also be used rather than conventional bread objects.

“A part of this schooling helps folks perceive how they will incorporate flatbreads into their each day meal plans,” Ms. Rayo defined. “As an accompaniment to a salad or soup, as a substitute for bread or rolls for sandwiches. There’s a lot you are able to do with flatbreads and wraps to create enjoyable, scrumptious, distinctive meals and snacks.”

Toufayan Bakeries makes use of social media advertising for a lot of of its merchandise.

“Whether or not it’s Instagram, Fb or TikTok, we’re always placing it on the market,” Ms. Toufayan stated. “We’ve bought a database of hundreds of consumers, and we’re always bombarding our shoppers with recipe options.”

These distinctive options embody utilizing pita bread to make a dessert with cooked apple, cinnamon and sugar, or utilizing a gluten-free wrap as the bottom of a pizza crust.

“You need to use the naan bread, which is often regarded as an Indian meals, to make a extremely nice Italian panini out of,” Ms. Toufayan stated. “You set it in your panini press, the place you add contemporary mozzarella, meat and marinara, and also you’re good to go. We’re always making options in order that our shoppers know that each product is extraordinarily versatile.”

One factor is definite — producers need shoppers to step outdoors the field with tortillas and flatbreads. If this continues, with producers increasing their merchandise’ utilization and well being claims, the class will proceed to develop.

Adapting to trade challenges

Tortillas and flatbreads have seen robust progress because of will increase in at-home cooking and demand for more healthy merchandise, however there’s nonetheless loads of pressure on the trade as nicely. Value will increase, provide chain points and labor shortages stay problematic for producers like Brooklyn, NY-based Aladdin Bakeries.

Aladdin Bakers' tortilla

“Trucking was as soon as a small proportion of every transaction. Now, it’s usually troublesome to seek out carriers, and if we do, the prices have usually elevated greater than we’ve been in a position to take into account in our pricing,” stated Theresa Watkinson, Aladdin Bakers’ chief working officer. “We at all times have aimed toward providing pricing stability, however this isn’t doable anymore. It’s irritating for us and our clients. Thankfully, we aren’t on this state of affairs alone, so our clients have been understanding.”

Ridgefield, NJ-based Toufayan Bakeries has confronted comparable challenges.

“It’s turning into more and more troublesome to get different provides reminiscent of baggage and packing containers, and a whole lot of that is because of not having the manpower in your factories,” defined Karen Toufayan, vp of promoting and gross sales, Toufayan Bakeries. “The price of making a bundle of bread has additionally actually skyrocketed, so we’re coping with a whole lot of points in the case of pricing and improve of prices.”

Each bakeries have managed to develop regardless of these challenges, emphasizing the significance of staying on prime of operations and sustaining trade relationships in case the going will get powerful.

“We’re actually experiencing provide chain points like each different meals producer, however we’ve got nice relationships with our vendor-partners and have to date managed to develop our enterprise and preserve 100% fill charges to our clients,” Ms. Watkinson stated. “It’s difficult, however we’ve got an incredible staff, and we’ve got been in a position to keep away from lots of the pitfalls of our rivals. Being situated in Brooklyn has advantages, reminiscent of an excellent labor provide and proximity to many main suppliers in our area.”

Toufayan Bakeries’ robust relationship with bag and field suppliers has helped it by way of latest provide shortages.

“We’re a fairly large buyer for lots of these people, and we at all times pay our payments on time, so we discover ourselves to be a whole lot of occasions on the entrance of the road in the case of getting baggage and packing containers,” Ms. Toufayan stated. “And fairly frankly, we simply attempt to supply out as many field and bag folks as there are on the market.”

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