Three North Carolina suppliers will provide product for Wendy’s rollout of baked sweet potatoes as a side dish in May.

Representatives from Nash Produce, Nashville, N.C.; Ham Produce Co., Snow Hill, N.C.; and Wayne E. Bailey, Chadbourn, N.C.; all confirmed they are part of the program and are pleased with the new partnership.

N&W Farms of Vardaman, Miss., is the other supplier of sweet potatoes for Wendy’s.

Laura Kornegay, marketing and business development director for Nash Produce, said the company first met with Wendy’s personnel at the Produce Marketing Association’s foodservice trade show last July.

One of the main reasons Wendy’s chose Nash Produce as a supplier was the company’s electronic sizing.

The accurate sizing provides Wendy’s with the exact size range of potatoes it requested, which is 10-14 ounces.

The baked sweet potato is being offered for a limited time, with hopes that it could become a permanent menu item.

“This has the potential to be one of the largest new markets in the sweet potato industry in the past 20 years if Wendy’s and other restaurants continue to have baked sweet potatoes as a part of their menus,” Kornegay said in an e-mail.

The baked sweet potato is served with a buttery cinnamon spread on the side, but suppliers are confident that the sweet potato’s nutritional benefits will encourage consumers to try it, even without the spread.

“People are very health-conscious now, and sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest foods out there,” said Ronnie Mercer, salesman for Wayne E. Bailey Produce.