KANSAS CITY — In the world of tortillas, interest in recent years has shifted away from tortillas as an inexpensive option to a category that now is seeking out options that deliver on a wide range of attributes, from organic to gluten-free to grain-free. And consumers are paying up.
In the 52 weeks ended April 21, dollar sales in the hard/soft tortillas/taco kits segment totaled $2,561,895,992, up 3.7% from the same period a year ago, according to Information Resources, Inc., a Chicago-based market research firm. Unit sales, meanwhile, climbed 1.4% to 1,107,749,954.
Mission Foods, the Irving, Texas-based subsidiary of Gruma Corp., continues to pace the category with dollar sales of $839,378,925, which accounts for more than 32% of total segment sales. In the 52 weeks ended April 21, Mission Foods’ hard/soft tortillas/taco kits dollar sales rose 6.3% over the prior-year period, according to I.R.I.
Two products primarily responsible for the growth at Mission over the past year fit into the trend of added benefits. Dollar sales of Mission Carb Balance tortillas rose 33% to $126,504,842, while Mission Organics increased 45% to $18,629,885, according to I.R.I. Both products also command a much higher price point than the category average. At $4.36 per unit, Mission Carb Balance is the most expensive product listed among the top 20 brands tracked by I.R.I., while Mission Organics, at $3, is the fifth most expensive.
Another higher-priced tortilla product performing well is Xtreme Wellness from Ole Mexican Foods, Inc., Norcross, Ga.
“The Xtreme Wellness product line has been specifically designed and developed to provide healthy options for our customers,” the company said. “Perfect for dieting needs and diabetic-friendly, these products are carb-lean, low-calorie and offer a low G.I. load. They are also made with extra-virgin olive oil and flax seeds. You get all these great, healthy benefits without losing any of the delicious flavor you’ve come to expect from Ole Mexican Foods.”
The Xtreme Wellness line includes many different styles and flavors of tortillas, including tomato basil, sprouted whole grains, 100% whole wheat and spinach and herbs.
In the 52 weeks ended April 21, dollar sales of Ole Xtreme Wellness tortillas totaled $48,549,415, up 27% from the same period a year ago, according to I.R.I. The tortillas have an average price per unit of $3.40.
Newer companies also are looking to the tortilla segment to make a splash. Caulipower, Los Angeles, was formed in 2017 with an initial focus on frozen cauliflower-based pizzas and crusts. But earlier this year the company introduced a new frozen, ready-to-make cauliflower tortilla line with original and grain-free varieties.
According to Caulipower, the new tortillas “are the gluten-free solution to quesadillas, burritos, tacos, wraps and more, with fewer calories, less fat, more fiber, and vitamin C.” Cauliflower is the first ingredient in both varieties, with the grain-free variety featuring chickpea flour with seven grams of protein and eight net carbs.
“Caulipower’s mission is to listen to what people want,” said Gail Becker, founder and chief executive officer. “Like pizza, tortillas are beloved, versatile and a natural fit for us to create a better-for-you option. Cauliflower tortillas offer another nutritious canvas to create their favorite foods — with the same great taste as our pizzas, the health benefits of cauliflower and the time-saving benefit all of us so desperately need.”
Global tortilla sales are forecast to exceed $12.3 billion by 2028, according to Future Market Insights (F.M.I.), a market intelligence and consulting firm. F.M.I. said the category is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.7% between 2018-28.
F.M.I. said the global tortilla market has witnessed a surge in the launch of new products containing innovative flavors. Additionally, organic and gluten-free tortilla products have seen an uptick in sales in the Americas in recent years.
“The launch of these new flavored products is expected to have a positive impact on the market, thereby fueling the growth of the global tortilla market during the forecast period,” F.M.I. said. “Moreover, significant growth in organized retailing in the form of hypermarket and specialty markets, which are more likely to make savory snacks popular among the consumers, will significantly drive the adoption of tortillas in the coming years.”