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Nash Produce sweetening the usage of sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are not just for the holidays anymore.

That is one of the key takeaways that attendees are going to learn when the stop by the Nash Produce booth, No. 807, at the PMA Foodservice Show in Monterrey, CA, July 28-29.

“One of the things I’m trying to do is introduce sweet potatoes as something more than a holiday food,” said Tami Long, director of marketing and business development at Nash Produce, based in Nashville, NC. “We ship all year long — 365 days — because we can store sweet potatoes. They are good in the summer, so I am doing a new brand awareness for sweet potatoes. They can be used by restaurants on the grill. They can be used in potato salad.”

4-Branded-boxes Rich in vitamins and minerals, sweet potatoes are naturally sweet, and if eaten with the skin on provide four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, and 35 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are also higher in antioxidant activity compared to other vegetables. Antioxidants help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

“What is good about sweet potatoes is that they bring a natural sweetness to any dish they are added to,” Long said. “People are looking for other ways to get sweetness without sugar and artificial sweeteners, well, having a little sweet potato in a recipe can actually do that.”

Officials at Nash are working to broaden the sweet potato’s appeal.

“Everybody thinks of sweet potatoes as just the sweetness that you do with the brown sugar and cinnamon,” Long said. “Actually, sweet potatoes also work very well with savory spices, like Italian and Indian.”

And people are still creating new uses for sweet potatoes around the holidays.

“At the 2017 North Carolina State Fair, the second place winner of the sweet potato recipe contest was sweet potato eggnog. It was unbelievable,” Long said.

While the 10-foot-by-10-foot Nash Produce PMA Foodservice Show booth is the same size as previous years’, this year it has a whole new look, complete with cases showcasing Nash’s various foodservice brands, takeaway brochures and a checklist touting the advantages that Nash Produce offers over other sweet potato suppliers, such as its year-round supply capabilities and custom electronic sizing.

“We’ll be exhibiting our organic sweet potatoes, along with our conventional sweet potatoes,” Long said.

Nash Produce grows three varieties of sweet potatoes: Covington, with a tan skin and orange flesh; Bonita, tan skin and white flesh; and Murasaki, purple skin with white flesh. Covington is also available in organic.

According to Long, both conventional and organic sweet potatoes are growing rapidly in the foodservice trade.

“We’ve noticed that sweet potatoes are getting more popular with foodservice accounts because of their health aspects,” she said. “People like to get sweet potato fries or baked sweet potatoes because they don’t feel so guilty about getting all the other stuff they ordered because they perceive that sweet potato as the one thing that was healthy.”

Nash Produce officials will be sharing their cooking ideas at the show.

“We’ll be happy to discuss with attendees different ways they can possibly cook sweet potatoes, etc., but usually the chefs already know what they want to do,” Long said.

“They are just at the show looking for the highest quality, and at Nash Produce, that is what we do. We have the highest quality sweet potatoes and the best service possible,” she added.