TUCSON, Ariz. — Frieda Caplan accepted the 2013 United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award at a Jan. 28 dinner dedicated to her.
The founder of specialty produce supplier Frieda’s Inc. was noted for her constant optimism and establishing a successful female-owned and -operated company in a male-dominated industry.
Caplan founded Frieda’s in 1962 and remains chairwoman of the board while her daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, run the company as chief executive officer and vice president and chief operating officer, respectively.
Frieda Caplan said she is proud of so much in her career, in which she gets credit for introducing a number of new produce items to the U.S., including kiwifruit.
She said she was invited to address a United Fresh convention breakfast around the time she was first selling retailers on kiwifruit.
“Someone asked me, ‘What does kiwifruit look like’? I responded without hesitation, ‘Horse turds,’” Caplan said.
She said she was touched that her two daughters started a scholarship in her name to send members of family-owned produce companies to United Fresh’s annual political event, the Washington Public Policy Conference.
Showing her optimism, she invited those in attendance to her 90th birthday party and wished people would donate a salad bar in her name as part of United Fresh’s “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” program.
Karen Caplan, Jackie Caplan Wiggins and Karen’s daughter Alex Jackson, who joined the marketing staff of Frieda’s, all thanked Frieda Caplan for providing the opportunity for them to join and prosper in the produce industry.