A global canvas

naan bread pizza

As the Chipotle-ization of the food industry spreads, it’s no surprise that flatbreads—which easily lend themselves to customizable and creative applications in everything from pizzas to sandwich bases—continue to rise in popularity. In fact, flatbreads have increased on menus by 8.7 percent in a year-over-year comparison, according to Chicago-based research firm Technomic.

But while traditional flatbreads are well-established on menus across all segments, ethnic alternatives such pita, lavash and naan also are growing. These globally inspired flatbreads are an untapped opportunity for innovation and capitalize on the popularity of flatbread menu items. Of these items, pita has the strongest menu penetration at 13 percent, followed by roti and naan, according to Chicago-based research firm Datassential, indicating a promising prospect for these global carriers.

“Global flavors definitely have an impact on menus and are leading the way with flatbreads,” says Rachel Royster, senior coordinator at Technomic. “There are a lot of growing fast-casual Mediterranean and Indian restaurants, like Naansense, I Dream of Falafel and Roti that allow the customers to customize their meals with proteins and vegetables wrapped in a flatbread (naan, laffa or roti) which are incredibly popular with the lunch crowd.”

And while consumer tastes for global ingredients are increasing, ethnic restaurants aren’t the only ones taking advantage of changing palates—large chains are also introducing global flatbread fare. Buffalo Wild Wings recently introduced a flatbread LTO that featured naan bread with classic Buffalo Wild Wings flavors. Likewise, Corner Bakery Café recently introduced new flatbread options on their menus.

Here’s a snapshot of other globally inspired flatbread dishes appearing on menus across the country.

The Grey Goose
Hampton, Va.
This Old Man: Country ham, smoked turkey, fresh vegetables, lavash; $8

Matt and Meera
Hoboken, N.J.
Naanchos: Crispy naan chips, melted masala cheese, chutney, toppings; $5

Flat Top Grill
Chicago-based; 13 locations
Flat Top Quesadilla: Grilled onions, peppers, cheese; roti bread; $5

This post is sponsored by Rich's Foodservice


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