Published online: Aug 03, 2010
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Mashed potatoes in foodservice operations are up 29 percent in the past four years. In Q1 2006, the top 350 chain restaurant menus listed 1,749 mashed potato menu items. In Q1 2010, there were 2,256. This is an important and positive trend for potatoes in foodservice.

"Participants at the 2009 USPB hosted "Menu Innovations with Potatoes" Culinary Seminar have experimented with a wide variety of mashed potato flavors and ideas," said Ashley Kleckner, Senior Account Executive-Integrated Marketing, Ketchum Food B2B. "Some of the exciting attendee innovations were: Hoja Santo Mashed Potato Tamale on a bed of mole, mashed potatoes in a pork and potato roulade and Sofrito mashed potato stuffed Anaheim peppers with lime meringue.

"Many [....] foodservice operations report adding more dishes with mashed potato sides to their menu, the classics like original, garlic and white cheddar are still big hits."

Among the restaurant segments, casual dining menus featured the most mashed potatoes-1,356 in Q1 2010, up from 984 in Q1 2006. What's driving purchases in these units?

"The economy and the appeal of comfort foods make mashed potatoes a particularly appealing option right now," Kleckner explains. "But they are a perennial favorite because they are so well suited to new flavors and pairings.

"As new flavors become popular, mashed potatoes provide an easy-to-produce and easy-to-love canvas; the wasabi trend is a perfect example of a flavor that was added for a while and isn't as popular anymore. A current example of mashed potato flavor versatility is the chili mashed potatoes at Don Pablo's Mexican Kitchen, a leading casual dining chain".