What were once rare opportunities to broaden culinary horizons are now common experiences in many diets. Pita, tortillas and flatbreads from around the world now appear on most menus and are stocked in many household pantries.
These breads also are thriving due to their perceived healthfulness. Flatbreads, for example, might offer fewer carbohydrates when used as sandwich bread. Tortillas and wraps enjoy the same healthy halo.
In the Greek and Mediterranean world of ethnic foods, food producers also can tap into a perceived notion of healthy inspired by Greek yogurt. Compared with traditional varieties, Greek yogurt can offer higher levels of protein with less fat. Food manufacturers have taken this concept and run with it, creating Greek-inspired lines of butters and other dairy products. Greek has, in effect, become its own better-for-you brand.
Adapting that trend to bread, Kontos Foods, Paterson, N.J., created Greek Lifestyle flatbreads, introduced in 2013. Like the yogurt, Greek Lifestyle is benefitting from a surge in demand for Mediterranean products, due in large part to their healthfulness," said Warren Stoll, marketing director at Kontos Foods. The bread offers twice the protein of a typical flatbread with 15 grams and half the carbohydrates with just 20 grams.
With these health benefits, it’s easy to see why flatbreads are gaining market share. Flatbreads, which incorporate ethnic trends from countries like Greece, India and countries throughout the Middle East, provide a way to experience different foods in a familiar, low-risk format, said Karen Toufayan, vice-president of marketing and sales, Toufayan Bakeries, Orlando, Fla. Toufayan’s line of flatbreads include Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat versions of pitas and wraps in varieties such as Wholesome Wheat, Hearty White, and Corn and Jalapeño.
“Late last year, we introduced our first Organic Naan bread, which combined the taste and texture of the exotic Indian-based bread, in a healthier, all natural, organic context,” Ms. Toufayan said. “This reflects the desire for consumers to eat smarter while enjoying what they eat.”
Toufayan Bakeries also offers a variety of flatbreads, including pitas, wraps, naan and lavash. To market their products as key elements of meals and snacks, the company recruits food bloggers and nutritionists to develop an array of recipes focusing on different dayparts and meal occasions. It also has developed videos that rolled out via social media to demonstrate how the recipes can be made and direct traffic to its web site.
With the healthy attributes ethnic varieties of bread and snacks can offer, traditional forms of bread must either adapt or move over to create room on the shelves for these international rising stars.