Produce suppliers from Central America and the Caribbean say foodservice has taken a big hit in the down economy, but some say there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“Foodservice is suffering the most,” said Mark Vertrees, marketing manager for M&M Farms, Miami.

However, tropicals and tropical roots have sparked a lot of interest, particularly in Florida, he said.

Vertrees said value meals offering tropical roots and other vegetables are doing the best in foodservice.

Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, Pompano Beach, Fla., said Southern Specialties’ restaurant accounts are looking for new ways to bring customers into the door and to fill seats.

“Foodservice is definitely down,” he said. “They are taking the same products they are just taking somewhat less of them.”

Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, said foodservice business has improved somewhat from last year.

“Last year looked like everything took a standstill and we’re seeing it move again,” he said.

Warren said as the company expands its line of vegetables from Central America old customers are supporting the effort.