ORLANDO, FLA. — In Italy, the flatbread is called “schiacciata,” which roughly means “smashed” or “smooshed.” Back in the 15th century, Tuscan bakers would grab a piece of dough, flatten it a bit and place it in their ovens to check if they had reached the proper temperature. And voila, that’s how schiacciata was born.
“Depending on how quickly it baked, they knew when the oven was ready,” said Ed Metzger, senior director business development for Breadeli, Charlotte, N.C. “It turns out it makes a perfect flatbread that’s crispy on the outside with a soft interior.”
Breadeli is part of U.K.-based Bakkavor, a publicly traded food company on the London Exchange. Bakkavor featured its version of schiacciata sold under the Breadeli Rustic Flat brand name at International-Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual convention and trade show, held June 2-4 in Orlando.
Breadeli is the latest entry into the packaged flatbread market, which Mr. Metzger estimated at about $130 million in annual sales.
Instead of shipping the products from its parent company based in the U.K., Breadeli started up its 50,000-square-foot bakery in Charlotte in September.
Prior to ramping up the facility, Mr. Metzger said, the company spent an extended period test baking the bread. Since opening, the bakery has been scaling up to full-line production on its automated line to ensure everything was ready for the I.D.D.B.A. show, Mr. Metzger said.
Its line of 7-oz thaw-and-sell Italian rustic flatbreads offer a 270-day frozen and 7-day ambient shelf life.
“We think of our breads as perfectly inconsistent in terms of shape because all of our products are hand formed and hand docked, but everything remains consistent as far as the manufacturing process so the bread will always taste the same based on the variety they purchase,” Mr. Metzger said. “And the customer doesn’t have to worry about issues with the shelf life because we have done all of the research that there is a food safe product for their end users.”
The bread is available in four varieties: garlic butter, Italian herb, roasted tomato and basil pesto. The line retails for $3.49 to $3.79.
“Because Bakkavor UK had great success with double-digit bread growth, it was viewed as an opportunity as white space for the U.S. market,” Mr. Metzger said. “That’s why Breadeli took the risk to come over and provide something that was unique, different and delicious for retail shelves.”