Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine asked Wayne Beach, director of sales and marketing at Tyson Foods, a number of questions ranging from his career in the tortilla industry and his priorities as TIA’s new chairman to his views on trends and the state of the industry. Here’s what he had to say:

His favorite movie is “The Sting.” On a day off with nothing pressing at home, the one thing he likes to do is play golf with his kids. As incoming chairman of the Tortilla Industry Association, one of his main goals will be membership growth.

Come and meet Wayne Beach, director of sales and marketing at Tyson Foods, Fayetteville, Ark.

A Northwest Arkansas native, he and his wife, Kathy, have three children, Maridith, Nickolas and Natilie, and one granddaughter, Mary Emma, who is Maridith’s daughter.

A graduate of Greenland High School and the University of Arkansas, Beach is an avid golfer who likes to read suspense novels, spend time doing outdoor activities and following his alma mater’s Razorbacks’ sports teams.

In addition to his work at Tyson’s Mexican Original, he is involved with organizations, including coaching youth baseball, basketball, softball and football. He is past president of the Fayetteville Youth Baseball Association.

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine asked him a number of questions ranging from his career in the tortilla industry and his priorities as TIA’s chairman to his views on trends and the state of the industry. Here’s what he had to say:

Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery:Let’s begin by talking about your career at Mexican Original and Tyson Foods.

Wayne Beach: I started part-time work at Mexican Original in 1970 while attending the University of Arkansas. I began working in the construction and transportation industries from 1975 to 1978....
I then [started with] Mexican Original full-time February 1979 with manufacturing responsibilities, including equipment and material purchasing. In 1982, I moved over to technical sales with plant QA/QC and product development.

Tyson Foods purchased Mexican Original in 1983. In conjunction with that move, I transferred into the Food Service Division of Tyson Foods with poultry and Mexican Original product sales responsibilities. I assumed sales, marketing and product development responsibilities for the Mexican Original Division in 1997.

SF&WB: As chairman of the Tortilla Industry Association, what are your top priorities for 2010?

Beach:Membership growth will remain one of the primary objectives of the association.  In addition, I want to enhance and further develop programs and benefits available to members through TIA. Thirdly, I want the association to promote the consumption of tortillas and tortilla-based products across all market segments and provide technical programs to include equipment design/operation, regulatory, safety, ingredients and research. 

SF&WB:Please give us your State of the Tortilla Industry report. What are the most pressing issues affecting the tortilla industry?

Beach:Volatility in the commodities market, energy and transportation costs and consumer spending will continue to be key issues within the industry. The general state of the economy or at least the level of uncertainty appears to be our most pressing issue.  

SF&WB:How has the tortilla industry evolved over the last few years?

Beach:Tortillas and tortilla-based products have become mainstream products with consumer acceptance in traditional and non-traditional markets. In addition, consumer demand for tortillas has spread to all regions of the country.  

The industry also has seen advancements in equipment including design features for better utilization of plant floor space, energy consumption, repair and maintenance, general operation, automated product inspection and packaging.            

SF&WB: Why have tortillas, and more recently flatbreads in general, remained so popular with consumers?

Beach: Tortilla products provide value, convenience, versatility, wide flavor range and broad menu applications. They also fit most meal/snack occasions and have applications in all dining day parts.  

SF&WB: How are tortilla producers leveraging those trends with new products?

Beach:The industry is leveraging trends with expanded product and flavor options. This includes on-trend flavors, enhanced operational attributes and whole grain and multigrain options.

SF&WB:What are the consumer trends that are driving sales in the foodservice channel? In the retail channel?

Beach:With foodservice spending down, operators are striving to maintain a unique dining experience that also provides value to the consumer. Variety and convenience remain primary considerations in the selection process.

At-home dining is on the upswing with value being the primary consideration. Families strive to create a unique dining experience with components that emulate “a made-from-scratch or dine-out experience.”

SF&WB:Why did Tyson, most known in the meat industry, venture into the tortilla industry in the first place?

Beach: In the book,Tyson, From Farm to Market,it says “Tyson product diversification in chicken was matched in 1983 by an entry in Mexican foods. With little public fanfare, Tyson purchased the Fayetteville, Ark.[-based] Mexican Original company and within a few years became the nation’s leading producer of corn and flour tortilla products. The initial synergy with poultry was in mass purchases of corn for tortillas and chicken feed….”

SF&WB: Please give us an overview of Tyson’s tortilla business.

Beach:Today, Tyson Foods is the nation’s second-leading tortilla producer with production facilities in Fayetteville, Ark.; Portland, Ind.; and Sanford, N.C. We have a complete product line that includes flavored wraps, press and die-cut flour tortillas, corn tortillas and pre-cut tortilla chips (white and yellow corn), pre-fried tortilla chips, taco shells and tostada shells and flatbread. 

SF&WB:What are Tyson’s core strengths in the tortilla industry and how has the company evolved over the last few years to respond to consumer trends and its customers’ needs?

Beach: Our core strengths include our manufacturing experience, extensive product line, product development capabilities and marketing and distribution system.

In addition, we offer total meal and menu development using the complete line of Tyson protein and non-protein products. We feature on-trend flavor options, dining experience convenience and operational requirements.

SF&WB: What do you see as the biggest potential for the tortilla industry going forward?

Beach:The biggest potential for our industry is the continued growth of core products across all markets.

SF&WB: What is your favorite recipe or application where tortillas are a component to the meal, snack, etc.?

Beach:I use tortillas just like most people use bread.

Editor’s Note: For more on TIA, check out our August Tortilla Trends issue or flip through our April Tortilla Trends report at