Cooking at home will thrive at least through mid-2021, since many families will still be working and learning
remotely due to COVID-19 uncertainty. As a result, any assistance with meal planning and prep convenience will resonate with consumers.

“In-home cooking has always been a key element of tortilla utilization, so the product’s formats and channels were already well-suited when this trend grew,” said Jim Kabbani, executive director of the Tortilla Industry Association.

After almost a year of brushing up on their culinary skills, people are more confident in the kitchen, but fatigue is setting in for many. In fact, 65% of consumers admitted they are tired of cooking at home, according to Datassential research. They are running out of ideas for convenient meal solutions and looking to reinvent the everyday with a new twist on traditional dishes, creating an opportunity for producers to respond with new products, uses and recipe ideas.

“Versatility of the category is key to consumer
appeal,” said Eric Richard, education coordinator at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association.

Tortillas and flatbreads are an ingredient delivery platform. They work well as components of a multi-
ingredient meal or can be eaten alone. Minneapolis-based General Mills and its Old El Paso brand introduced a Tortilla Pocket wrap that is sealed at the bottom, offering an efficient solution for inexperienced wrappers and to prevent spillage.

Innovation with products that simplify people’s lives and provide a variety of convenient meal options is a win-win with consumers.

Ridgefield, NJ-based Toufayan Bakeries posted 21.5% growth at $24.4 million for the pita segment, according to the IRI retail data. Other products include the company’s lower carb Smart Pockets, an award-winning line of gluten-free wraps, and a new flavor was added to its line of Hearth Baked Wraps last year.

“Toufayan is always playing around with new flavors, as our Everything Wrap was a hit this year,” said Harry Toufayan, founder and chief executive officer of Toufayan Bakeries. “Our biggest potential is with pantry basics, where we started many years ago. Basic pita, wraps and flatbreads provide pantry staples for consumers, no matter the economic climate.”

The pandemic also brought the frozen section of the supermarket to the forefront, another opportunity for tortillas and flatbreads.

“There’s a lot of activity with frozen foods with people still at home. Frozen foods offer variety and convenience, and products can be stored for months, limiting shopping trips,” said Lee Sanders, senior vice president, government relations and public affairs for the American Bakers’ Association. “Tortilla and flatbread producers can leverage this trend, promoting their products as an ingredient in frozen foods. Convenience, indulgence and nutrition needs can be met here.”

There is white space for flatbread in the freezer or refrigerator case with producers packaging flatbread dough and spice kits to create fresh snacks or appetizers, said Kara Nielsen, director, Food & Drink, WGSN, a global trend forecasting company.

Daily Harvest, New York City, offers a line of Frozen Flatbreads made of whole ingredients from crust to sauce to vegetable toppings. Gluten and dairy-free, they are available in multiple ingredient combinations such as Pear & Arugula and Artichoke & Spinach.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on tortillas & flatbreads, click here.