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Taking flatbreads and tortillas to the next level



Taking flatbreads and tortillas to the next level

KANSAS CITY — Glancing on the knowledge, it could be straightforward to assume that the tortilla and flatbread bubble has burst, because of inflation, however take a better look. Heart retailer wraps and flatbreads present a class experiencing a 2.8% lower in greenback gross sales and a whopping 11.5% drop in unit gross sales, in line with Circana knowledge for the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2023. Melissa Altobelli, senior vp, consumer insights, dairy and bakery vertical, Circana, defined that it’s all about specializing in the correct place.

“Circana’s heart retailer definition of ‘wraps and flatbreads’ excludes tortillas,” she mentioned. “Circana locations ‘tortillas and taco kits’ collectively inside the ethnic aisle with Mexican meals. Tortillas and taco kits are literally the majority of the phase, when evaluating tortilla, wrap, flatbread, pita and naan as a phase, and are rising 2% in items.”

When Altobelli elements tortillas in, your entire phase reveals 1% progress in unit gross sales.

Gaze exterior the middle retailer aisles, and the image for tortillas and flatbreads will get even brighter. Tortillas/wraps/flatbreads within the perimeter greenback gross sales are up 4.8% with a negligible lower in unit gross sales of 0.5%.

A lot of this progress is pushed by rising shopper acceptance of those merchandise as alternate options to bread, buns and rolls. Tortillas and flatbreads additionally profit from their wholesome halo and new product innovation for better-for-you (BFY) varieties.

Various staples

When in comparison with different bakery staple classes, tortillas are performing higher within the heart of the shop, regardless of the efficiency of its associated flatbreads on this part. In comparison with tortillas and taco kits’ 2% progress in heart retailer unit gross sales, heart retailer bread is down 3% in unit gross sales and buns and rolls dropped 2%. Increased costs are protecting these classes afloat with 5.2% and eight.3% enhance in greenback gross sales, respectively, for these classes. A lot of tortillas’ and flatbreads’ recognition as alternate options for breads, buns and rolls could be attributed to their dietary profile.

“Customers proceed to shift towards more healthy consuming, and flatbread tends to have the next dietary worth than some commonplace breads,” mentioned Karen Toufayan, vp, advertising and marketing, Toufayan Bakeries, Ridgefield, NJ. “Tortillas and wraps can drastically cut back the carbohydrates in a sandwich, making them a straightforward swap and so handy. Whenever you mix wholesome and straightforward right into a ready-to-eat meals, you’ll be able to see a trajectory for progress.”

As Toufayan famous, tortillas and flatbreads could have initially benefitted from a well being halo, however the comfort and flexibility of those merchandise has solely elevated their recognition. Customers have change into extra educated on new methods to include merchandise from these classes into their meals and snacks. Tortillas, wraps and pitas have even lent themselves to the tendencies of portability and comfort as shoppers regain mobility within the aftermath of the pandemic, and they’re confronted with value pressures.

“There’s continued alternative to tout the multi-functionality of tortillas as a budget-saving approach,” Altobelli mentioned. “Utilizing social media to point out shoppers the multitude of utilization events — breakfast tortillas, flatbread as pizza crust, air fried chips, and so forth. — and recipe ideas.”

A significant driver for the success of the tortilla class is the rising Hispanic inhabitants in america. The Pew Analysis Heart reported that the Hispanic inhabitants grew 26% from 2010 to 2022 in america. With a diversifying US inhabitants, cuisines from world wide change into extra normalized, beginning with america’ neighbor to the south.

“Surveys present that Mexican delicacies is one in every of America’s favorites, so utilizing tortillas and wraps at dwelling to amplify a meal or to wrap up a wholesome different the subsequent day is changing into a weekly staple added to the procuring checklist,” Toufayan mentioned. “Whenever you add within the globally impressed recipe alternatives and ready-to-eat functionality of flatbreads, international delicacies curiosity is a driving issue for the class.”

A lot of this inspiration is coming from the foodservice sector, and whereas many shoppers are slicing again on consuming out, they’re nonetheless bringing dwelling the concepts and flavors of their favourite eating places.

“Worldwide aisles at grocery shops will not be solely the place immigrants discover the meals that remind them of dwelling, however they’re a standard a part of the procuring expertise for a lot of shoppers who like to search out new flavors,” mentioned Jose Carillo, head of selling, Tia Lupita Meals, Tiburon, Calif. “These international cuisines are influencing tortilla gross sales. Immediately it’s OK to show something right into a taco. Simply search on-line for fusion taco recipes and also you’ll discover Korean-, Thai-, Indian-inspired recipes.”

How low are you able to go?

Whereas shoppers usually understand flatbreads and tortillas as having fewer carbs than a typical slice of bread or a bun or roll, there may be nonetheless a motion to see how low carb these merchandise can get.

“Heart-store tortilla and taco equipment progress is being pushed by Mission Meals, personal label and Guerrero,” Altobelli mentioned. “Each Mission’s and Guerrero’s progress are from the launch of zero web carb sub-brands. Mission Carb Steadiness — 2 grams of web carbs — additionally continues to point out progress.”

Whereas these low carb choices are rising, she rapidly identified, nevertheless, that common and unique tortillas and flatbread varieties nonetheless account for almost all of gross sales.

“I’d anticipate continued enlargement in BFY choices, that are driving progress within the tortilla class particularly,” she mentioned.

And that appears to be the place innovation is carrying the class. Gruma model Mission Meals debuted its Zero Internet Carbs line in 2022 with Authentic and Sundried Tomato Basil and expanded it in 2023 with a Sriracha Ranch selection. For its Carb Steadiness portfolio, for the carb-conscious shopper, Gruma, Monterrey, Mexico, added a Chipotle fajita-sized tortilla with 1 gram of web carbs per serving and a Flour burrito-sized tortilla with 4 grams of web carbs.

In its Q3 2023 earnings name with buyers, Gruma characterised the demand for merchandise as fairly constructive, particularly the BFY portfolios. In america particularly, the two% gross sales quantity progress for the tortilla enterprise was pushed by Gruma’s BFY product line and corn-related tortilla merchandise.

Different manufacturers have additionally taken discover. Toufayan Bakeries launched its personal keto-friendly pita, wraps and flatbread in 2022 and expanded distribution of that line in 2023.

“At Toufayan Bakeries, we’re dedicated to staying forward of shopper tendencies and offering great-tasting merchandise that align with all kinds of dietary preferences,” Toufayan advised “The recognition of the keto eating regimen offered an thrilling alternative for us to fulfill the evolving wants of our shoppers. We’re actually happy with these great-tasting breads made by our household for yours.”

Whereas low carb and keto stands out as the well being darlings of the second, the definition of BFY extends past carbohydrates, even for a bakery product, which opens up a wealth of choices for manufacturers and formulators. Along with keto-friendly choices, Gruma’s Mission Meals model has launched protein-enhanced tortillas that additionally ship lots of fiber. The model additionally affords gluten-free tortillas that function conventional corn, cauliflower base or a flour tortilla different.

“Similar to in different classes, BFY has been driving lots of progress within the tortilla class,” Carillo mentioned. “There are a number of manufacturers which have been innovating for a very long time with attributes like gluten-free, low carb and added fiber, which make shoppers really feel higher about incorporating tortillas into their meals.”

Tia Lupita Meals was first based as a sizzling sauce firm to convey founder Hector Saldivar’s mom’s sizzling sauce to america. The corporate expanded into BFY tortillas so that everybody may get pleasure from tacos with out the guilt. The corporate’s diminished carb and calorie tortillas are created from cactus flour.

“Customers love tortillas for his or her tacos, burritos and wraps, however they’re additionally watching what they eat, which implies manufacturers must discover a method to ship the correct stability of taste and diet similar to we did at Tia Lupita,” Carillo defined.

The corporate additionally partnered with Renewal Mill to convey upcycled okara (soy pulp) flour into the formulation to go a step additional and make the merchandise extra sustainable. Carillo believes that different flours like cactus and okara are right here to remain, although he admits just some may have endurance.

“Various flours like almond, coconut, chickpeas, cassava and, in our case, cactus flour are main the cost to ship grain-free alternate options,” he mentioned. “However there are additionally manufacturers taking the method of including elements like turmeric, herbs and spinach to justify BFY claims. I believe different flours are right here to remain, and taste innovation will proceed, however I don’t see lots of these merchandise sticking round for too lengthy.”

These alternate options can require some training by packaging, advertising and marketing campaigns and even influencers on social media. The extra merchandise undertake these elements, nevertheless, the extra endurance they will garner. The excellent news for Tia Lupita and different manufacturers like it’s that health-conscious shoppers are prepared to strive new gadgets, and so they’re loyal, which is usually a blessing and a curse.

“BFY shoppers will not be afraid of making an attempt new elements and merchandise; they’re adventurous,” Carillo mentioned. “The problem is that when they discover a product they love, it’s onerous to make them change. So, the training curve is steep as a result of there’s a want to interrupt current habits, plus the upper value level of any such product can be a barrier. The buyer thinks, ‘That sounds good, but it surely’s not low-cost. What if I purchase it and I don’t prefer it?’ ”

Freshness of flatbreads

Whereas BFY could also be one prong of the success for tortillas and flatbreads, the opposite prong needs to be freshness and authenticity. Whereas tortillas could also be pulling alongside the middle retailer gross sales, within the perimeter, it’s a totally completely different story. The notion of freshness and authenticity exuding from the grocery store perimeter is an ideal complement for these bakery gadgets.

“Tortillas and flatbreads’ success within the perimeter is pushed by naan and pita,” Altobelli defined. “Development in naan and pita types are compensating for declines in flatbreads, wraps and tortillas.”

She pointed to Toronto-based FGF Manufacturers’ Stonefire Genuine Flatbread because the chief in naan, and its flavored varieties — Garlic, Every little thing and Caramelized Onion — as the largest drivers of progress. For pita, the chief is Joseph’s Bakery, Lawrence, Mass., a family-owned bakery with an American-dream story.

“Joseph affords an genuine Syrian recipe,” Altobelli mentioned. “Their Authentic pita is driving progress together with their more healthy varietal, which is flax, oat bran and entire wheat.”

Flatbreads profit from the authenticity that comes with family-owned bakeries based by immigrants like Joseph’s Bakery and Toufayan Bakeries. Whereas shoppers are on the lookout for one thing contemporary, premium and genuine, a household recipe speaks volumes.

“Fairly than going out and arising with loopy new flavors, I believe there’s really lots of concentrate on being retro and going again to extra unique, genuine, conventional sorts of flavors in tortillas and reversing the pattern of all the pieces being all fashionable and high-tech,” mentioned Jim Kabbani, president, the Tortilla Trade Affiliation. “It’s in regards to the taste, the feel and look.”

Whereas a household story and recipe can floor a model and firm within the flatbread area, Toufayan famous that it’s necessary to not relaxation in your laurels.

“Innovation is just not all the time techy,” she mentioned. “For us, innovation is commonly in service of high-quality, freshness and selection.”

So why are naan and pita main within the perimeter over flatbread and tortillas? Altobelli attributed that largely to cost. Flatbreads and tortillas noticed extra important value will increase than naan and pita merchandise. Whereas tortillas carried out very effectively within the heart retailer, naan noticed lower than 10% of its gross sales from the middle retailer as a result of that merely isn’t the place shoppers search for these merchandise.

A lot of this perimeter success additionally goes again to the theme of the previous yr as effectively. Consumers are consuming out much less. Even Circana’s December 2023 survey discovered restaurant visitors was down six factors in comparison with November.

“We all know that 85% of meals are being ready at dwelling,” Altobelli mentioned. “Customers need out-of-home high quality and style at dwelling, which lends itself effectively to perimeter bread classes.”

With shoppers extra considering tortillas and flatbreads and the standard and authenticity they create to a dinner desk, it’s no marvel these staples are discovering their manner into increasingly more procuring carts.

Corporations assist shoppers scale the training curve for flatbreads

Flatbreads and tortillas are the bakery staples of their native cultures and are as versatile — if no more so — than a loaf of bread. A part of these merchandise’ endurance in cross-cultural procuring carts has been displaying shoppers all that they will do.

“We now have a devoted advertising and marketing group fully centered on making certain the very best expertise for shoppers all through their interplay with the model, from in-store to on-line to at-home,” mentioned Karen Toufayan, vp of selling, Toufayan Bakeries, Ridgefield, NJ. “We take nice care with branding, packaging, product innovation, utilization inspiration and on-line interplay to share the unbelievable versatility of those merchandise.”

With the facility of as we speak’s advertising and marketing, that shopper training has by no means been simpler. Social media as a pinboard for recipes have opened a door to getting the phrase out in a private manner.

“Influencer suggestions proceed to drive greater than 60% of buy choices for shoppers in line with current Sidekiq analysis, so we’ve all the time partnered with influencers on a number of ranges: from the mom-next-door micro influencer to macro influencers with thousands and thousands of followers and a number of platforms,” Toufayan defined.

For Tia Lupita Meals, Tiburon, Calif., shopper training is extra centered on explaining its elements: cactus flour and upcycled okara flour.

“At Tia Lupita, we all know we’re within the very early phases of training shoppers on the advantages of cactus and why we’re including it to our tortillas and tortilla chips with out sacrificing style,” mentioned Jose Carillo, head of selling for Tia Lupita.

As an rising model, Tia Lupita nonetheless advantages essentially the most from trialing its merchandise in grocery shops.

“We’re assured that our tortillas have actually good dietary info, however simply speaking about the advantages is just not sufficient,” Carillo mentioned. “We present shoppers that additionally they style nice. We now have to get artistic and discover methods to get our merchandise in individuals’s fingers to allow them to expertise it themselves.”

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