Consumers aren’t only attracted to a tortilla’s filling; rather, the wrap must also speak for itself. New flavor cravings and a demand for healthier ingredients have become an “in” for companies that don’t already sell Mexican food products. Gaining market share is possible through alternative ingredients, which also provide staple tortilla companies the opportunity to think outside of the box. Popular non-traditional products are formulated with base ingredients that range from chickpeas to spinach rather than flour or corn.

Maria and Ricardo’s, a brand of Harbar LLC, Canton, Mass., introduced a trio of grain-free veggie tortillas last year in Cauliflower, Zucchini and Sweet Potato assortments. Cauliflower and Zucchini offer one serving of vegetables each, and Sweet Potato delivers half a serving.

“Our new grain-free veggie tortillas are made with the finest ingredients including real vegetables, which pack them with amazing flavor and texture,” said Ezequiel Montemayor, CEO of Maria and Ricardo’s. “Paired with your favorite filling, they’re a delicious way to add vegetables to any meal, especially for consumers looking for gluten-free or grain-free alternatives.”

Florencia Moreno Torres, former insights and innovations manager at Innova Market Insights, called this the “eating green” trend in her 2018 presentation titled Trends in Tortillas — Europe.

“Consumers are looking for innovative options to take the inherent benefits of plants into their daily lives and drive innovation of new plant-flavored products,” she explained.

In February, Los Angeles-based Caulipower branched out beyond its pizza crusts with the launch of a cauliflower tortilla line. Frozen and ready-to-make, the tortillas are available in original and grain-free varieties. While cauliflower is the first ingredient, they also contain chickpea flour with 7 grams of protein and are non-GMO, vegan and dairy-, wheat- and preservative-free.

“Caulipower’s mission is to listen to what people want,” said Gail Becker, founder and CEO of Caulipower. “Like pizza, tortillas are beloved, versatile and a natural fit for us to create a better-for-you option. Cauliflower tortillas offer another nutritious canvas to create their favorite foods — with the same great taste as our pizzas, the health benefits of cauliflower and the time-saving benefit all of us so desperately need.”

Maker of grain-free tortillas and tortilla chips, Siete Family Foods, Austin, Texas, added three new chip flavors and a burrito tortilla to its portfolio in 2019. All four products are made with cassava flour, and the chips also include avocado oil, coconut flour and ground chia seeds.

Jim Kabbani, executive director of the Tortilla Industry Association, noted that as the demand for healthier eating has developed, the tortilla industry must keep up with the trend. And a big part of keeping up includes following the overall food industry trends that consumers seek such as clean label, organic, non-GMO and even diet-friendly options. Alternative ingredients have made this goal easier for tortilla companies to accomplish. 

This article is an excerpt from the April 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on tortilla trends, click here.