Like most products within the bakery segment, tortillas are evolving to appeal to consumers’ demand for a healthier product that provides new and unique ingredient combinations.

“With the continued awareness of health benefits that can be derived from the foods we eat, it’s a natural evolution to have tortillas and wraps incorporate some of the health attributes that the consumer is looking for,” says Ricardo Baez, president of Don Pancho Authentic Mexican Foods.

Keeping this trend in mind, the Salem, Ore.-based company recently launched its Healthy Wraps line. “These wraps have some excellent attributes that set them apart,” says Baez. “All of our wraps are made with Life’s DHA Omega 3 to help support a healthy heart, brain and eyes. In addition to this, they are made with 100% safflower oil and have reduced calories, reduced sodium [and] reduced sugar.”

The new wraps come in 100 Percent Whole Wheat, 100 Calorie, Golden Blend, High Fiber Low Carb and Ancient Grains varieties.

“We are extremely excited about this new line of wraps and look to be a category leader in this arena,” states Baez.

Not only are the new wraps healthier, they’re multi-dimensional. Possibly looking to score a birdie, tortilla manufacturers are driving to show consumers that their products can live outside the ethnic foods aisle. Baez states that Don Pancho’s products can also be placed in the bread aisle or deli department as a bread substitute for sandwiches and in the dairy case as a reminder to consumers that they can be used for breakfast burritos.

“Very few products are this flexible and provide the retailer with the ability to use tortillas to increase their sales,” says Baez.

Don Pancho also offers a gluten-free version of its tortillas, satisfying consumer demand for more gluten-free products. The Gluten-Free Wraps are 95% fat-free, cholesterol-free and high in dietary fiber.

“Moms and dads will know that Don Pancho tortillas will provide their family with a great-tasting product that has some very, very good health attributes,” states Baez.

More tortilla manufacturers are assuring that their products can be used for more than just burritos and tacos. Toufayan Bakeries, Ridgefield, N.J., offers a line of wraps that compliment any deli creation. Varieties include Plain, Wholesome Wheat, Savory Spinach, Multigrain, Garlic Pesto and Sundried Tomato.

MexAmerica Foods, St. Marys, Pa., also offers specialty deli wraps in Traditional White Flour, 100 Percent Whole Wheat with Honey, Sun Dried Tomato and Basil, Garden Spinach and Pesto, and Garlic and Herb. The wraps are kosher-certified and can be used as a bread substitute or to add a little zest to a burrito or taco dinner.

The company also produces traditional corn and flour tortillas. The flour line comes in Traditional White Flour, Whole Wheat Blend and 100 Percent Honey Whole Wheat, where as the corn line is available in White Corn, Yellow Corn and Organic Blue Corn. Consumers can buy the flour tortillas in a 6- and 7-in. soft taco size, a 8- and 9-in. quesadilla/fajita size, a 10-in. burrito/wrap size and a 12-in. sandwich size. The corn tortillas are available in a 6-in. traditional taco size.

Taste and texture are key

Gluten-free, which is gaining momentum across the bakery industry, is also swinging into the tortilla segment. Rudi’s Organic Bakery, Boulder, Colo., is one company paying close attention to the trend. “We continue to see increasing demand for gluten-free products that have the taste and texture of regular breads and baked goods,” says Doug Radi, vice president of marketing. “This demand allowed us to launch Rudi’s Gluten-Free bakery nearly two years ago.”

Included in the new brand is a line of Gluten-Free Tortillas that launched in March. The tortillas come in three varieties: Plain; Spinach; and Fiesta, spiced up with red bell peppers, jalapenos, onion and garlic flavors.

“All of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Tortillas have 5 g. of fiber per serving, are made with 51% whole-grain flours and have a soft, pliable texture that’s ready to be loaded up with goodness,” says Radi. “Like all Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery products, the tortillas are made with only the highest quality, wholesome ingredients; carry the Gluten-Free Certification Organization seal; and are soft and delicious, just like real tortillas.”

For consumers looking for a healthier product, but aren’t ready to go gluten-free, Rudi’s Organic Bakery offers a variety of organic tortillas and wraps for them to enjoy. The 7 Grain with Flax Wraps offer Omega 3s, while the Multigrain Wraps contain whole wheat flour and spelt flour—all organic, of course. The company also offers Spelt and Whole Spelt Tortillas to help reduce stickiness in the product.

“Moms love our products since most are full of whole grains and provide additional healthy ingredients for lunchtime or snacktime,” says Radi. “Based on consumer demand, we also foresee an increase in healthy, on-the-go options, as well as incorporating ancient grains and different types of seeds, like chia, into products.”

Mission Foods, Irving, Texas, is doing just that by finding unique and exciting ingredients that will entice today’s consumer into trying its products.

“Today’s consumers have a more sophisticated palate and are looking for a different and unique eating experience,” says Peter Thornfield, senior director of marketing.

Mission Foods’ most recent creation is its line of Artisan Style Tortillas, which comes in four varieties: Corn and Whole Wheat Blend; Ancient Grains, made with whole grain wheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff; Multigrain; and Flaxseed and Blue Corn Blend. The tortillas are between 90 and 100 calories each and offer up to 33 g. of whole grains per serving.

“Mission Artisan Style Tortillas were crafted for consumers looking to make flavorful and nutritious meals with ease,” says Thornfield.

Making a healthier tortilla seems to be the goal of many bakeries. One such bakery is French Meadow Bakery, St. Simons Island, Ga. While it offers a Gluten-Free Tortilla and an Organic Sprouted Grain Tortilla, perhaps its most unique product is its Fat Flush Tortilla. Made with sprouted grains and legumes, the organic tortilla is free of fats, baker’s yeast and added sugars.

Another manufacturer creating artisan tortillas is MiRancho, Oakland, Calif. The All Natural tortilla line comes in Artisan Flour; Multi Grain, made with 100% whole-wheat flour and a grain blend of flax seeds, sesame seeds, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and quinoa; and Artisan Corn, which is Genetically Modified Organism (GMO)-free.

MiRancho also has a Hand Crafted line that includes Organic Corn and Mama’s Flour varieties.

Whether gluten-free or organic, made with corn or flour, ready for beans and rice or turkey and cheese, tortillas are heading down the green, scoring eagles and birdies in the bakery market. Bread better watch its back!

What’s on the Inside

While many tortilla manufacturers’ main focus is creating the shell for burritos, tacos or wraps, that’s only the beginning for Ruiz Foods Inc.’s El Monterey brand of Dinuba, Calif.

“El Monterey’s product portfolio is made up of key products, including burritos, chimichangas, taquitos (corn and flour), tamales, quesadillas and enchiladas,” says Kim Ruiz Beck, chairman.

El Monterey is now producing its frozen foods’ and snacks’ tortillas on-site, bringing all aspects of its products in-house.

“Our El Monterey brand products use fresh flour or corn tortillas that are made exclusively in our on-site bakery–literally–just moments before they are filled with meats, spices, vegetables and real cheeses to make one of our signature El Monterey products,” states Beck. “The process from the bakery to the flash freezer is less than an hour; nothing is processed.”

The manufacturer’s tortilla-covered products include Burritos and Chimichangas; Taquitos; Mini Chimis; Quesadillas; Egg; Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Wraps; and Cheesecake Bites–in Dulche de Leche and Raspberry Cheesecake varieties.