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It is unanimous: Foodservice operators nationwide were happy to bid farewell to 2009.

Across the board, foodservice establishments were especially hard hit by the recession. It was a wake-up call for the industry -- with food and labor costs facing tough scrutiny. Today, many agree that the return of the back-to- basics operating principles are here for the long haul. With more modest business management mechanisms in place, operators have continued to examine the essentials, and the news is good for Idaho potatoes.

In order to help foodservice professionals understand the tremendous value and calculate the cost of an individual Idaho potato, the Idaho Potato Commission is offering a simple-to-use slide tool designed to determine the price per serving. This "cost per each serving calculator" is small at three inches by eight inches, made out of durable, coated cardboard and easy to use.

For example, a produce supplier might charge a foodservice establishment $20 for an 80-count carton; the net cost per potato is about 25 cents. To obtain a "cost per each serving calculator" free of charge, simply e-mail the IPC at ipc@potato.idaho.gov and indicate "calculator" in the subject line. Include the recipient's name and mailing address in the body of the email and the IPC will forward one. If there are multiple locations, request the quantity needed (up to 50 free). This is a must-have tool for anyone who purchases food for a foodservice operation, according to a press release issued by the commission.

"Idaho potatoes have always been one of the most profitable and healthful menu items for a variety of foodservice venues," Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice for the Idaho Potato Commission, said in a press release. "The raw cost is extremely reasonable and the perceived value is high -- especially with the premium brand recognition that the name Idaho delivers. A large, one-pound Idaho potato, in many cities, will only cost about 40 cents each. It is quite a deal for the operator, as a steakhouse-style, baked potato for 40 cents can easily be marked up ten times when paired with dairy butter and sour cream or a vegetarian salsa. And, if you think about the cost of serving a side of mashed potatoes or fries, you'll certainly get your money's worth." In addition to their affordability, Idaho potatoes are loaded with important nutrients and vitamins.

"Many of the nutrients and vitamins are in the potato's skin," Mr. Odiorne added. "In addition to the low cost per potato, if you leave the skin on when making mashed potatoes or 'smashed potatoes,' you save on labor and actually serve the guest a healthy, hearty and homestyle side dish. It's a win- win for you and your clientele."

In addition to fresh potatoes, Idaho produces excellent dehydrated, refrigerated and frozen potatoes that earn high marks for taste, consistency and versatility. These products also save labor and prep time and are priced competitively.

To learn more about Idaho potatoes, visit http://directory.idahopotato.com/dir_list.php?m=processors.