Tortilla time, all the time


Tortilla time, all the time
A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
Tortilla time,
all the time
The popularity of Hispanic cuisine, interest in better-foryou foods and mealtime versatility are just some of the
reasons why consumers and foodservice operators are
buying more tortillas. Tortilla manufacturers, in turn, are
upping the ante by introducing even more flavors and
healthier ingredients.
Romy Schafer, Associate Editor
hen an American icon such as
McDonald’s adds a product to
its menu, it’s a sure bet that the
launch is backed by significant market
research and reflects current consumer
trends. The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company’s 2013 rollout of Premium McWraps, for
instance, seemed to address several trends,
including consumers’ move away from
sandwiches, a desire for healthier foods
and a continued love of Hispanic foods.
And there’s no doubt that Americans love
Hispanic foods. Sales of Hispanic foods and
drinks were about $8 billion in the U.S.
market in 2012, and are expected to reach
$11 billion by 2017, according to an article
in The Washington Times. With the proliferation of Mexican quick-service restaurants
(QSRs) like Taco Bell, Chipotle Mexican Grill,
Qdoba Mexican Grill, Moe’s Southwest Grill,
Baja Fresh and others, consumers can enjoy
creative versions of Mexican-style cuisine
whenever and wherever they want.
Taco Bell’s new Grillers, for instance, encase an assortment of ingredients in a warm,
flour tortilla for an easy-to-eat, on-the-go
meal. Chipotle Mexican Grill, which says
it sells “food with integrity,” offers gourmet
burritos that consumers customize. Baja
Fresh uses grilled tortillas to make its burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and other products.
In addition, many QSRs now offer vegetarian fare, breakfast burritos or wraps and
children’s meals.
No wonder the tortilla manufacturing industry “has seen strong growth in the last five
years, making it the fastest-growing segment
within the entire baking industry,” according
to IBISWorld’s “Tortilla Production Market
Research Report,” published in September
2013. The Los Angeles-based market research firm says tortillas generate $3 billion
in revenue in the U.S.
Healthy options
Tortilla manufacturers aren’t just staying
busy, providing foodservice customers with
tortillas, they’re also doing the same for their
retail customers, as more consumers discover
how versatile and better-for-you tortillas can
be and ask for more varieties and flavors.
As a result, many grocers are now stocking
multigrain and whole-grain tortillas, as well
as traditional corn and flour versions. Glutenfree, low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie, yeastfree, organic and other tortilla variations
are enabling consumers to address dietary
restrictions without sacrificing flavor or feeling unsatisfied. Flavored tortillas—cheddar,
spinach, green onion and more—are helping
home cooks become more adventuresome in
the kitchen when making breakfast, lunch,
dinner or a snack.
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A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
“While there are numerous trends hitting
the marketplace, the biggest trends driving
the development of our tortilla products are
an interest in whole grains, clean ingredient
labels without any chemicals and great taste,”
says Denise Day, senior marketing manager at
Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Boulder, Colo., which
makes tortillas under its Rudi’s Gluten-Free
Bakery and Rudi’s Organic Bakery brands. Both
are available in retail locations across the U.S.
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Launched in late 2012, Rudi’s Gluten-Free
Tortillas are made with whole-grain flours,
have 5 g. of fiber per serving and contain no
genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The
tortillas have a soft, pliable texture, making
them suitable for veggie wraps, spicy tacos,
tortilla pizzas and more. They also come in
three flavors: Plain; Spinach; and Fiesta.
“Rudi’s Gluten-Free has always focused on
providing high-quality, gluten-free products
for people with celiac disease and for those
with a gluten intolerance,” says Day. “In
general, the gluten-free industry has seen
high growth, with more consumers purchasing gluten-free products, whether they
need to for dietary reasons or not, because
it’s easier to prepare the same meal for the
whole family.”
Rudi’s Organic Tortillas allow consumers to
add the power of spelt, grains or flaxseeds to
a snack or as part of a meal. U.S. Department
of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic,
the tortillas are made with ingredients like
organic whole-wheat flour, organic palm fruit
oil and organic honey.
“Both brands have stayed focused on retail
customers because there is room to grow
in-store due to increasing consumer demand
for organic and gluten-free products,” says
Day. “In fact, according to Natural Food
Merchandiser Market Overview research,
sales of natural and organic products soared
to nearly $100 billion in the U.S. in 2012,
and those numbers continue to rise. The
gluten-free industry also continues to grow,
reaching sales of $10.5 billion in 2013,
according to Mintel. Gluten-free sales are
expected to continue growing, and Mintel estimates the category will produce more than
$15 billion in annual sales in 2016.”
A nutritious substitute
Julie Nargang, vice president of marketing/
innovation, Azteca Foods Inc., agrees that
consumers are looking for healthier food
options. “Tortillas are a natural substitute for
bread,” she explains. “Due to this, tortilla
consumption has surpassed some bread
items. We have addressed these trends with
our Ultragrain Tortillas, made with Ultragrain
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A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
Flour licensed from ConAgra Mills.
Ultragrain flour gives you the same great
white flour tortilla taste and texture with
whole-grain nutrition. In June, we will be
rolling out an entire platform geared toward
healthier options.”
Currently, Chicago-based company sells
salad shells, soft, flour tortillas, corn tortillas
and Ultragrain tortillas under its Azteca
brand. Under its Buena Vida brand, the company sells organic, fat-free, whole-grain and
whole-wheat, low-carb tortillas.
The company uses recyclable packaging
for its products, says Nargang, adding that
“environmental causes go beyond packaging
at Azteca. Internally, 95% of our production
food and packaging waste is either recycled
or reused.”
Most of Azteca Foods’ sales are retail.
However, Nargang says its foodservice
growth has been “impressive. The trend to
use tortillas as a carrier for all different types
of ingredients has caused an explosion in
menu items.”
TortillaLand, a Tyson Foods Inc. brand,
answers the call with all of its products, says
Charlene M. Richardson, TortillaLand marketing, Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., which
purchased the assets of San Diego-based
Circle Foods LLC, maker of TortillaLand
Tortillas, last June. “TortillaLand Uncooked
Flour Tortillas are made with a clean label—
five fresh ingredients to create an authentic
homemade taste,” she explains. “[They]
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A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
are gluten-free, offering an even healthier
authentic choice.”
The company recently added TortillaLand
Uncooked Cheesy Tortillas to its lineup. The
new product combines real cheddar cheese
and authentic tortillas and cooks in 60
seconds, enabling consumers to easily create
flavorful meals, snacks and even desserts anytime of the day at home. Portable packages
with easy-to-open zip seals help keep the
tortillas, which must be refrigerated, fresh.
“TortillaLand Tortillas are found exclusively
in the refrigerated section at retail,” says
Richardson. “[They] command more than a
10% share of the refrigerated tortilla segment
and continue to grow at double-digit rates.”
Getting the word out
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Many consumers are more proactive today
about learning about the foods they buy for
their families—reading labels, checking websites and asking questions on social media
sites. But given that American manufacturers
launch thousands of new products (food and
nonfood) annually, companies must be more
proactive to encourage consumers to notice
their brands.
“We target our consumers in a variety of
ways,” says Day. “Rudi’s connects with interested consumers on social media by using
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A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
social media, in-store events, the TortillaLand
website and blog, and online promotions.
“Consumer involvement is most effective,”
she notes. “Once consumers try TortillaLand
Uncooked Tortillas, they are likely to become
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to engage on
a more personal level. For Rudi’s, the mission
is more than just providing delicious, healthy
products—it’s also about educating consumers on why it’s important to pay attention
to the ingredients in their bread, as well as
cultivate a healthy lifestyle for the whole family. For the brand to connect with customers
and reach them on a more personal level, it’s
important [for us] to develop strategic online
campaigns that resonate with personal interests and passions of the Rudi’s customer, who
is well-educated and looking for nutritious
and delicious foods for her family.”
This is the second year the company
hosted the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Happy Camper
Summer Camp Scholarship contest, where it
uses Facebook as a platform where kids and
their parents can share what makes them
special in order to win a scholarship to a
gluten-free summer camp. “The goal is to
give kids with gluten-intolerances or celiac
disease the opportunity to attend summer
camp and explore without worrying about
what they’re eating, and moms can send
their kids off for a fun week knowing they’re
are in a safe, gluten-free environment,”
Day explains. “This is just one example of
how the brand is giving back to communities and thanking them for being a part of
the business.”
Richardson says TortillaLand is prominent
in integrated media, focusing on involving
consumers as much as possible through
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repeat buyers.”
Nargang says Azteca has spent the past
six months “really getting to know our
consumer. With this, we will be launching
an integrated campaign [in June] to drive
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A Special Report by Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery Magazine, a BNP Media Publication
the consumer specifically to the refrigerated
tortilla category.”
Tortillas for tomorrow
Even though demand for tortillas contin-
ues to be strong, thanks to Americans’ love
of Hispanic food and consumers’ interest in
healthier foods, tortilla manufacturers know
they can’t just sit back and enjoy the ride.
“Right now, one of the challenges in the tor-
tilla industry is continuing to improve flavor
options, while also providing a high-quality,
clean ingredient label and meeting consumer
dietary restrictions,” affirms Day. “To meet
this challenge, both Rudi’s Organic and Rudi’s
Gluten-Free have several different varieties of
tortillas to meet the needs of many types of
consumers, whether they are looking to make
a breakfast item or dinner meal, and whether
they’ll be creating Italian or Mexican recipes.”
Day adds that there’s also increasing
demand for products that offer additional
health benefits, like added fiber or Omega
3s. “It’s important to consider added benefits
when developing new products,” he says.
“After research and development, Rudi’s
Organic and Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery found
it necessary to add these nutritional benefits
and is proud to offer customers [products
with fiber and Omega 3s].”
Tortilla manufacturers and retailers also
may need to continue positioning their
products to compete with other baked goods
on the market, such as flatbread, bread,
rolls, sandwich thins and tomorrow’s “next
big thing.”
“In regard to competing against different
types of products, tortillas compete by offering a different solution for mealtime,” Day
says. “Rudi’s positions tortillas as a healthy
option to making unique recipes for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tortillas offer versatility.
You can make a delicious breakfast burrito
to start the day, or you can throw together an
easy turkey wrap for a midafternoon snack.
Plus, tortilla wraps offer an easy on-the-go
meal option, which is very important to
customers who don’t have a lot of time to
prepare meals for their families.”
Richardson also points out the versatility of
tortillas, noting that they are able to become
part of any kind of meal—breakfast, lunch,
dinner or even dessert.
“We believe the tortilla segment will
continue to see strong growth in the coming
years,” Day reflects. “Consumers continue to
seek products that deliver great taste and enhanced nutritional profile, and they can find
these benefits within Rudi’s Organic Bakery
[tortilla] products.” SF&WB
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