Tortilla, pitas, pizza crusts and other flatbreads were a hot button in the retail and foodservice industry last year, and they're expected to be on-trend in 2008 because of their perceived healthfulness and versatility in both ethnic and mainstread recipes, according to Kevin Pearson, vice president of Arr-Tech, Yakima, Wash.

“We’re seeing a growing popularity in all types of flatbreads -- whole wheat, low-carb and specialty flavors -- all being offered on the menus of many well-known restaurants and on the shelves of grocery stores,” he explains.

To help producers meet demand for these products at affordable prices, Pearson says, Arr-Tech has designed its counting and stacking machines to reduce labor and production costs while offering higher accuracy, providing better product hygiene and reducing waste.

“High-speed, fully automated systems are becoming more common and are more readily accepted as the rule rather than the exception in the majority of bakeries,” Pearson notes. “Businesses are becoming more aware of the vast benefits of automation versus manual labor and are desiring to make the change in their facilities.”

Higher operating speeds also boost throughput in similar or less time than in the past, he says.

Arr-Tech’s latest advances in technology include a paper or cardboard interleaver system designed to mount onto existing counter stackers. It also offers an inline bag system for sealing and trimming the bagged product as it is discharged from a bagger. This streamlines or eliminates problems associated with right-angle band sealers. Those issues can include product jams in the band sealer, sealing belts getting off track and requiring labor to straighten bags, Pearson says.

Editor’s Note: Information for this article was provided by Arr-Tech. For further details, visit