KANSAS CITY, MO — From pita to tortilla and more, the flatbread category is everchanging in versatility and product type. The catch-all category for the unleavened goods continues to thrive as the exploration of new dietary habits and cuisine introductions shift consumer habits.

Ridgefield, NJ-based Toufayan Bakeries produces a number of flatbread products and varieties across cultural cuisine types in its product portfolio in addition to other baked goods offerings. With a range of traditional flatbread types, newer trends like keto-friendly and gluten-free varieties are opening doors for Toufayan.

Greg Toufayan, owner of Toufayan Bakeries, shared that the rising trend around health and wellness, while new to some, has been around in a number of ways for a long time … and it’s always been a disruptor.

These trends don’t come without their trials as new ingredients impact production and require bakers to try to find solutions that work with the equipment and resources they currently have.


Toufayan noted when it comes to adapting to keep up with consumer trends, bakers have to do the modifications and work from what they have at their disposal.

“If you have to do something quick,” he said, “you’ve got to be able to make something on your own.”

On the tortilla side, the industry benefits from corn — one of the most popular varieties of tortilla — already being a gluten-free ingredient. However, a major influx in growth due to the pandemic has caused tortilla manufacturers to seek new varieties to appease and fulfill consumer demand.

Jim Kabbani, CEO of the Tortilla Industry Association (TIA), shared that impacts from the supply chain and the war in Ukraine — which until early August had halted the export of grain — have forced tortilla companies to find alternative ingredients and substitutions.


“A lot of the work that we’ve done in this regard at TIA has been to help them find alternative ingredients and figure out things like, ‘Does that particular alternative present any challenges in and of itself?’ in regard to either formulation or appliance pricing, and how to deal with that,” Kabbani said.

Among the alternative ingredient options, flours derived from lentils, chickpeas and cauliflower have helped tortilla manufacturers keep up with demand, which caused major growth in the category due to the pandemic.

Kabbani noted that when the pandemic lockdowns hit, a huge shift in tortilla consumption directed business away from restaurants and toward retail.

“The demand for the retail side of tortilla has just skyrocketed and pretty much doubled,” he said. “It kind of filled up an emptiness on the food service side.”

Yet that growth didn’t slow when foodservice outlets restarted their kitchens for pickup and delivery. Though restaurants were beginning to reopen, consumers continued to purchase tortillas for at-home consumption.


“The types of tortillas in demand have maintained their projected ratios prior to the pandemic,” Kabbani said, “but the volumes have increased quite a bit.”

With the inclusion of nontraditional flours and ingredients, R&D in tortillas has centered around replacement and substitution ingredients and how they affect formulation. As a result, tortilla manufacturers had to ramp up production but faced a challenge seen broadly across baking: labor shortages and supply chain issues.

“It made things a little crazy,” Kabbani said. “The demand for labor increased, and the ability to meet that demand has been rather difficult.”

This story has been adapted from the August| Q3 2022 issue of Commercial Baking. Read the full story in the digital edition here.