LAS VEGAS — The Tortilla Industry Association’s (TIA) technical conference, once again colocated with IBIE, addressed several topics this year, including operational skills, safety regulations, quality control, plant efficiency and best practices, all of which were designed to capitalize on the baking industry’s fastest growing market segment. The two-day event kicked off on Saturday, Sept. 17, and concludes midday tomorrow, Sept. 18.
In addition to the technical presentations, which include talks on supply chain, equipment safety, labor savings and alternative flours, the conference featured an “Ask the Experts” working lunch and a cocktail hour, which included tabletop exhibitions from nearly 20 companies.
Jim Kabbani, chief executive officer, TIA, highlighted the tortilla industry’s tremendous growth over the past several years, pointing to a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of between 5% and 9% from 1996 to present. He also shared that US tortilla sales reached $21 billion in 2021.
“Growth in our industry is driven by two factors: demographic market drivers and non-demographic drivers,” explained Mr. Kabbani, during the conference’s opening session. “Demographic growth can be attributed to a rise in the Hispanic or Latino population, which has increased dramatically since 1980. Non-demographic drivers are often found when consumers seek to improve their eating habits, or when a wider variety of eating options are made available (kosher, organic or gluten-free, for example). Convenience and an increase in non-Hispanic buyers also play a factor.”
Mr. Kabbani said the COVID-19 pandemic may have also played a role in driving the tortilla market’s recent growth, citing a rise in the retail channel during the early days of the pandemic’s lockdown.
In an effort to expand TIA’s reach to include flatbread manufacturers, Mr. Kabbani introduced the International Flatbread Federation (IFF), a sister organization dedicated to the industry’s restaurants, foodservice managers and flatbread users.
For more information about TIA, please visit www.tortilla-info.com. IFF’s website can be found at www.flatbreads.org.