Tortillas and Flatbreads are on the Rise

April 2021

We all know that Mexican food has been on the rise. And now, tortillas and flatbreads are finally getting some love, too. With high-quality tortillas being made in wheat fields across the US and a growing trend for creative flourishes involving bread and pizza crust, these formerly overlooked ingredients are hitting new popularity heights!

What is a Tortilla?

The word "tortilla" comes from the Spanish for "little cake"–a torta is a Latin American pastry that consists of two flatbreads baked together with melted cheese and other fillings inside. In Mexican cuisine, tortillas are made from corn, and come in a variety of colors. Green tortillas are usually made with un-germinated maize kernels. Yellow tortillas are almost always made with lime juice, and white tortillas have eggs as an agent. Tortillas are served plain, or filled with ingredients such as cheese, beans, meat or vegetables. Condiments used to flavor the mixture include hot sauce (such as Tabasco), limes, salt and onions.

A la Carte or as an Entrée?

We've seen people recommend baking tortillas with filling as an entrée. However, this is somewhat misplaced because it's really more of a snack food than a main course. This seems to work best for picnics, potlucks, and casual lunch fare; you can ask your guests if they want some with their meal or if they can share one with you if they aren't full yet. Chefs don't recommend them as a main course for most occasions, but you could always sample one with some extra guacamole for a quick bite.

Tin Foil or Plastic Wrap?

Many businesses also don't like to use tin foil as it makes the tortilla soggy, but they do like to keep the tortilla warm in a po'boy sandwich bag (in case of mini-pizzas). Some people wrap their tortillas in plastic wrap, which is a little safer and foolproof – you can place the wrapped dough in between two foil sheets and bake it that way.

Tortilla and Flatbread sales are on the rise, with stores reporting increased sales for retail giants like Costco and Walmart. This is a very interesting trend since these items have traditionally been stay at home foods while consumers have turned to fast-casual restaurants, such as Chipotle, for most of their food service needs.

Costco,the wholesale retailer said its sales of tortillas and flatbreads grew 20 percent from 2013 to 2014, with a majority of those sales occurring in the first quarter of the year. Walmart, the big retailer said it sold more than 1 million pounds of tortillas during the week before Christmas. During earlier periods, up to 1.6 million pounds were sold during the same time period. Taco Bell - the fast food chain says it has seen a 45 percent increase in taco shell sales over the last three years. This growth is attributed by Taco Bell to its introduction of its "Cantina Bell" menu, which promises to deliver fresh and innovative ingredients.

The past 30 years have seen the rise of tortilla factories and machines that can create tortillas with greater ease, productivity and consistency than ever before, however a lot of small local shops still make tortillas by hand using methods passed down from generation to generation.

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