With Mexican food being one of the top three cuisines in the United States and dietary diversification increasing among all ethnic groups, tortilla products are everywhere. In the opening session of the Tortilla Industry Association’s Tech Conference, Jim Kabbani, executive director and chief executive officer of T.I.A. (Booth No. 6780), explained that this popularity is due to demographic drivers such as immigration and economics and non-demographic drivers, which include convenience and special dietary considerations.
In 2018, U.S. tortilla sales exceeded $17.1 billion. While this number is high, Mr. Kabbani said it is most likely higher. Accurately calculating the state of the industry is complex due to many industry players being conglomerates and tortillas being sold as part of an overall product such as wraps and burritos. Flour tortillas (43%) are slightly pulling ahead of corn tortillas (42%) in the market. Tortilla chips follow at 11%, while taco shells and tostados bring in 2% of product sales.
Since T.I.A.’s first conference in Europe in 2017, it also has pulled together industry data specific to the continent. France, Spain, Great Britain and Germany lead the way with a total of approximately $131 million in sales. With flatbreads closely associated with tortillas, especially in Europe, Mr. Kabbani said T.I.A. has decided to partner with the International Flatbread Federation. This will allow T.I.A member companies the opportunity to gain insight from both associations and have greater networking capabilities.
In addition to receiving an update on the tortilla industry, attendees at the T.I.A. Tech Conference learned from a variety of speakers about best practices for tortilla chips, preventative maintenance techniques, enzymes and fibers, and more.