As at-home cooking increased due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the tortilla category has enjoyed strong growth for the past two years. 

At this year’s 33rd annual Tortilla Industry Association (TIA) Convention, held May 18-19 at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, tortilla makers can gain the valuable information, products and connections needed to capitalize on the industry’s momentum.

“You have all the latest ingredients, machinery and products needed by tortilla manufacturers — all under one roof,” said Jim Kabbani, chief executive officer, TIA. “It’s a very efficient place for tortilla manufacturers to keep abreast of what’s available to them in their work.”

One of the biggest benefits of the convention is its strong educational component, Mr. Kabbani said. Each year TIA surveys its members ahead of the convention to determine their most important industry questions and concerns.

“We then tailor our sessions to specifically address those topics and find the best speakers in that area,” Mr. Kabbani said.

An important topic of discussion at this year’s convention will be the increase in co-manufacturing relationships. Recent market challenges have left some tortilla manufacturers with excess capacity — or not enough, Mr. Kabbani explained.

“We’re going to have a session on how to successfully negotiate and navigate co-manufacturing relationships, from both the perspective of the person who is outsourcing their production as well as the person who is picking it up.”

Other topics will include navigating the challenges of logistics, dealing with labor shortages and analyzing the true product costs in the face of supply chain. Attendees can also learn best practices for equipment management and how to select the right flour for each tortilla application.

Another valuable component of the TIA Convention is its networking opportunities for exhibitors and attendees. 

“I know that networking sometimes sounds like a fluff word, but in reality, it’s very important,” Mr. Kabbani said.

“Our conference tends to be more like reunions. People reconnect with old friends and old customers, and they also make a lot of valuable new business connections.”

Mr. Kabbani also noted that the tortilla industry has lots of consolidation, and with low barrier of entry, there are many new companies entering the industry and looking for partnerships.

“They find the TIA Convention is a great place to get a head start being successful in the industry,” Mr. Kabbani said.

Last year’s convention, the first in-person convention since the start of the pandemic, saw record turnout. Mr. Kabbani expects another solid showing, including more than 500 attendees and 60 exhibitors.