Web Exclusive: Tortillas giving buns a run for its money

(CNN) - In the U.S., nothing is more traditional than the hot dog and hamburger. Except, maybe the Mexican tortilla! It's giving those American buns a run for their money.

At a Mexican restaurant near you and definitely at a supermarket in your neighborhood, you're bound to run into this round flatbread.

"We always have tortillas in our pantry," says Amy Patton, a tortilla fan.

In fact, tortillas are now outselling hamburger and hot dog buns at supermarkets and retail food stores in the United States.

Americans pay roughly 2.9 billion dollars a year for tortillas compared to 2.1 billion for buns according to consumer research company Packaged Facts, although tortillas have yet to beat buns at restaurants. Condiment sales tell a similar story. Salsa is outselling ketchup in the united states.

It's part of the rising popularity of Hispanic foods in the United States.

"I think America is such a melting pot that I think as all of the cultures and the influences from all over the world have come to America I think that it becomes part of our culture," says Amy Patton.

Industry analysts project these numbers will continue to increase steadily. They expect Hispanic food sales to rise to 10.7 billion dollars within four years. Ten-point-seven! That's more than 20 percent. And we're not only talking about tacos and tortillas.

"As more and more interest in the Latin foods grows you're going to continue to see more products on the shelves and more restaurants. You can find a Mexican restaurant in almost any city in this country, even in small towns. So Mexican cuisine is basically becoming all-American," says Ralph Herrera, Hispanic Marketing Specialist.

Mexican restaurants have long been a tradition in Texas and California, but business is now sizzling in other states, like Georgia and that has helped create a boom in the tortilla business.

"Even here in Georgia there's a couple of manufacturers. So we don't have to make it no more. We just have to make a phone call and they'll bring it to us," says Carlos Zambrano, Pollos Mi Tierra Restaurant.

Carlos Zambrano says a decade ago finding tortillas was a challenge in Atlanta. But thanks to the popularity of tortillas and Mexican food in general, he has now been able to open his second restaurant where, as you might imagine, the tortilla is queen.


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