Despite the recent low-carb diet popularity promoted via Atkins, South Beach and others, the Tortilla Industry Association’s (TIA) new biennial study, “State of the Tortilla Industry: 2004,” indicates that there was no blip in the growth of tortilla sales and consumption in the past two years. In fact, sales at wholesale levels reached a record $6.1 billion, an increase of 17% since 2002.
Overall, the industry has enjoyed an annual growth of 8% to 9% since 1996, and the trend data indicates that the industry is poised to grow further. This growth will be propelled by the steady increase of the Hispanic population in United States combined with the increase in tortilla consumption by non-Hispanics.
The consensus in the industry by both analysts and tortilla producers also predicts a healthy growth in the future. Manufacturers foresee a 10% annual growth, whereas analysts predict a 5% growth over the next few years. The new study also indicates that the market is still highly fragmented with a majority of the producers consisting of small-size firms with annual revenues of less than $10 million.
As in the past, TIA has continued to keep pace with and help foster industry growth and recognition. Thus far in 2005, 30 new companies have joined the association. Many new, smaller tortilla-producing companies in the U.S., as well as organizations from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Dominican Republic are among the new members.
As a result, association plans for the coming year will include a substantial effort to bring TIA to a new, higher level of operations, including enhanced membership benefits and activities to continue to promote industry products. One important issue in which TIA has become involved recently is the submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of recommended government standards of identity for tortillas and tortilla byproducts.
A second and perhaps more meaningful effort by the association, in response to a request by former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford, will be to define the corn tortilla as a whole-grain food. If validated, this recognition will clearly enhance marketing and promotional opportunities and contribute to the increased consumption of tortillas.
TIA’s 16th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition, scheduled for Nov. 11-13 at the new Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, once again is attracting representatives of tortilla producing companies that account for 75% or better of total market sales in the United States.
As testimony to the international growth and popularity of tortillas, registrants from Europe, South and Central America and Africa are scheduled to be among the attendees. Many new exhibitors are planning to display their wares at the convention’s trade show and a special highlight of the event is expected to be the presentation of keynote speaker, Hector V. Barreto, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.