New flatbread products spark category

by Andy Nelson
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Kontos Foods grilled flatbread
Kontos Foods' new 9-inch pre-grilled flatbread has the appearance of a cooked panini.
 

KANSAS CITY — Demand in many corners of the bread industry has been sluggish in recent years, as consumers continue to heed the warnings of the anti-carb and anti-gluten crowds. Flatbreads, however, is one bread category that’s bucking the trend, with several industry leaders rolling out a host of new products.

Warren Stoll, Kontos Foods
Warren Stoll, marketing director for Kontos Foods

The newest flatbread from Paterson, N.J.-based Kontos Foods Inc. is a 9-inch pre-grilled flatbread that has the appearance of a cooked panini, said Warren Stoll, the company’s marketing director. The product is packed two to a bag, and the bag is airtight to extend shelf life.

“We’ve sold it at food service, in a 10-pack,” Mr. Stoll said. “We were getting a lot of requests for it at retail.”

The product is currently being sold in selected test markets.

Kontos has another flatbread product in the test market stage, but the company wants to make sure it’s perfect before announcing it to the world, Mr. Stoll said. But he can guarantee it will be a game-changer.

Kontos Foods grilled flatbread
Kontos Foods also sells its 9-inch pre-grilled flatbread in 10-packs for food service customers.
 

“It’s the most innovative, creative bread we’ve come up with to date,” he noted.

Kontos sells more than 50 flatbread products, spanning a range of cultures (Greek, Indian, Hispanic) and uses. What separates Kontos from other flatbread makers is its commitment to traditional methods of baking, Mr. Stoll said.

“All of our flatbreads start out as a yeast doughball that’s hand-stretched before it goes in the oven,” he explained. “I like to say that every piece of bread we make is like a snowflake — no two are alike.”

Kontos Foods cocktail flatbread
Kontos Foods produces a variety of flatbread products, including miniature sizes for appetizers.
 

With most flatbreads in the market, Mr. Stoll said, dough is die-cut. That process yields greater uniformity, but other qualities suffer.

“It’s flatter and doesn’t have the same fluffiness, taste and texture,” he said.

Kontos’s staples traditionally have been white, whole wheat and multi-grain pitas, Mr. Stoll said. With retailers expanding their make-your-own-pizza offerings, pizza crust has become a stronger product for the company. Another rising star is Kontos’s Greek Lifestyle bread, which was introduced in 2013. It offers about twice the protein and half the carbs as other flatbreads in the category, Mr. Stoll said.

Kontos Foods Greek Lifestyle flatbread
Kontos’s Greek Lifestyle bread was introduced in 2013.
 

“In some chains it’s our No. 1 seller,” he noted. 

Like Greek yogurt and other Greek-inspired foods, Greek Lifestyle is benefitting from a surge in demand for Mediterranean products, due in large part to their healthfulness, he said.

“Greek foods are on the same trajectory Mexican foods were 30 years ago, only it’s a much faster trajectory,” Mr. Stoll said.

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