Restaurant boosts retail
All of these restaurant sales start to transition over to retail sales.
“Whenever a consumer tries sweet potatoes in restaurants, they tend to reproduce those ideas at home, which means it’s encouraging less seasonality in the fresh market,” said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the Smithfield, N.C.-based North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.
“It’s becoming a more mainstream item that’s used year-round instead of just at the holidays,” she said.
The commission has a long-term goal to expand the foodservice segment for fresh sweet potatoes.
“After seeing the operational success and consumer excitement around the baked sweet potato limited time offer at Wendy’s last year, efforts were refocused to position North Carolina as the optimum source,” Cristy-Lucie Alvarado, representative for the commission, said in an e-mail.
The commission also has sponsored research and other events to encourage the use of more fresh North Carolina product in restaurants, according to Alvarado.
“Currently, the commission is meeting with chain executives to show how fresh sweet potatoes can add traffic and profitability to their restaurants,” she said.