• by Leon Mengri
  • September 17 2018
  • food


The Rise of Tortillas

The Rise of Tortillas

The versatile tortilla is on a roll, breaking out of the Tex-Mex stereotype and finding its way into all sorts of meals and snacks. That said, the increasing popularity of Mexican cuisine hasn’t hurt either.

What Are They

Suppliers offer tortillas in a variety of configurations that span: types (e.g., corn and wheat), sizes (e.g., 4.5 inches to 12 inches), flavors (e.g., cheddar and tomato), and styles. Tyson Foods, which supplies frozen tortillas to foodservice establishments, offers its wheat flour tortillas in styles that include:

  • burrito style
  • die-cut
  • pressed
  • soft taco style
  • stretched
  • wraps

Furthermore, some suppliers market premium, niche, or healthier versions of their tortillas to help boost value growth. For instance, Gruma states that it is increasing its focus on growing sales of organic, gluten-free, and lower carbohydrate tortillas. 

Recent Demand Trends

Over the 2007-2017 period, tortilla demand rose at an average annual rate of 5.9%. The Hispanic population expanded at an average yearly rate of 2.4%, outpacing the rate of growth of the overall population by a factor of three. Suppliers also benefited from increasing interest in Hispanic cuisine among all ethnic groups and the versatility of tortillas for a wide variety of food types. Furthermore, growth in the number of Mexican restaurants and food trucks propelled gains. In addition, tortillas meet consumers’ need for foods that allow for fast and easy meal preparation at an affordable price. Among the many conveniences of tortillas, the products are sold cooked and ready to be assembled into various meals (e.g., burritos) by consumers. From 2007 to 2017, the average amount spent on tortillas per capita rose, along with the inclusion of Mexican-style food in consumer diets.

Prospects for the Future

The Hispanic population in the US is forecast to continue growing, boosting opportunities for tortilla manufacturers. In addition, the popularity of Mexican cuisine among the population in general and the increasing number of Mexican restaurant establishments help create a growing market for tortillas. Notably, leading US tortilla supplier Gruma states in its 2017 annual report “we believe that the growing consumption of Mexican-style foods by non-Hispanics will continue to increase demand for tortillas”. Nevertheless, suppliers face competition from the wide assortment of other similar flour-based foods consumers may use in meals (e.g., various types of bread, flatbreads, and tortilla chips).

Learn More

For more insights into the US dough, dry pasta, and tortillas market, see Dough, Dry Pasta, & Tortillas: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2022 US dough, dry pasta, and tortillas demand and shipments in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand and shipments are segmented by product in terms of:

  • dough, including refrigerated and frozen dough used for bread, cookies, pastries, and pizza
  • dry pasta, including egg noodles and pasta such as macaroni and spaghetti
  • tortillas

To illustrate historical trends, total demand, total shipments, the various segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2007 to 2017.

Frozen pizzas are excluded from the scope of this report. Also excluded are pizza and other dough types made in factories, bakeries, and on the premises of retail locations for immediate transformation into a finished product. Dough manufactured in a factory for eventual transformation by a franchise (e.g., pizza franchise purchasing dough from franchisor’s factories) or sold to independent businesses or consumers for eventual incorporation in a food product is included. Tortilla chips and strips are excluded. Re-exports of dough, dry pasta, and tortillas are excluded from demand and trade figures.

Related Focus Reports include:

About the Author

Leon Mengri is a Senior Market Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. He conducts research and writes a variety of Focus Reports, which offer concise overviews of market size, product segmentation, business trends, and more.