Dial up, dial down

by Laurie Gorton
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A tortilla is a tortilla is a tortilla, right? Wrong! Tortilla manufacturers know consumers have definite likes and dislikes when it comes to the visual appearance, thickness and softness of wheat flour tortillas. Foodservice customers demand even more, wanting one style of tortilla for table use and another for entree assembly. Tortilla producers have additional expectations about stretchiness and clean label while retailers emphasize shelf life.

To balance these market needs with ingredient choice, AB Mauri North America, Chesterfield, MO, consulted tortilla buyers and turned that research over to a team of the company’s technical, sales and marketing staff. The group put together the Supremo Tortilla System, which offers a “dial up, dial down” approach for tortilla manufacturers.

The multifunctional system comprises ingredient ­solutions for leavening, conditioning, preservation and extensibility. AB Mauri balanced the components to enable use at varying levels that alter characteristics of the finished tortilla. Operators can now easily tailor tortilla types based on an individual customer’s requirements. Such flexibility is critical in today’s market, yet the system approach to formulating and making tortillas is new.

“To keep up with demand, some tortilla manufacturers purchase multiple ingredients, which adds complexity to operations; others purchase batch packs, which lock them into producing one type of tortilla,” said Michael Tamayo, senior business development manager, tortillas, AB Mauri North America. “The Supremo Tortilla System puts flexibility and simplicity back into the hands of the manufacturer with high-performance ingredients that can be easily dialed-up or down, enabling them to produce a variety of tortilla types to meet market requirements.”

In Supremo, the development team put together a formula-builder tool. It lets manufacturers select ­components and usage rates specific to their desired tortilla type. The system’s parts work in synergy with one another, resulting in enhanced quality. The system also cuts the manufacturer’s ingredient inventory to create savings and simplify prep operations.

Gregory Strauss, AB Mauri North America’s vice-president, sales and marketing, likened the Supremo Tortilla System to a five-pointed star. One component controls thickness; the second, softness; the third, shelf life; and the fourth, stretchiness. “The fifth aspect is ‘customer’ with attributes of conventional, export, clean-label and low-sodium,” he explained.

The Supremo Balance component contains acid salts and sodium bicarbonate in proper balance. “It yields the same pH even if you ‘dial up’ or ‘dial down’ to adjust tortilla thickness,” Mr. Tamayo said.

The clean-label conditioner Supremo Max CL delivers softness for longer pull-dates, thereby allowing manufacturers to centralize production and reach distant distribution channels. Mold inhibition is provided by Supremo Preserve, suitable for both traditional chemical or clean-label options.

And Supremo Flex ensures that the dough stretches to the desired diameter, resulting in less batch waste. “The stretchiness aspect also controls development of toast points,” Mr. Tamayo noted. And toast points confer a ­desirable wood-fire baked appearance.

Much of the system’s functionality comes from ­enzymes. The company sources its enzymes globally and selects them for specific performance characteristics. “By monitoring the general types available from all suppliers, we capitalize on the primary enzyme functionality of each but also maximize the impact from their secondary and tertiary functions,” said Bill McKeown, AB Mauri North America’s vice-president, product innovation.

Because these ingredients work synergistically, they make the mixer operator’s job easier. “Our system replaces several ingredients in a traditional tortilla formula,” Mr. Tamayo explained. “It offers the flexibility to change batch size yields in real-time throughout the production schedule.” This aspect eliminates over- or under-runs that can happen when using pre-scaled batch packs, he explained.

Supremo is already involved in several large industrial tests at companies making flour tortillas, hand-stretch, hybrid corn, chapati, naan and flatbreads.

As currently offered, the Supremo Tortilla System is for wheat flour tortillas. “We have similar plans for corn flour, cooked corn and hybrid corn tortillas,” Mr. Tamayo said. “However, our current focus is on delivering the very best flour tortilla system available in the industry, and we are very excited about the feedback we are receiving.”

For more information about AB Mauri’s Supremo Tortilla System, visit www.abmna.com.               

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