At the Stevie Awards for Women in Business on Nov. 8, Caplan credited produce managers for her success. A video segment appears online.
“Fifty-one years ago, a produce manager responded to a single consumer’s request for a Chinese gooseberry she saw in New Zealand (which was renamed kiwifruit),” Caplan told the audience, according to a news release. “His willingness to follow through on this shopper’s request was the foundation of Frieda’s Inc.”
She established Frieda’s in 1962 at the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. She was the first woman to own and operate a U.S. wholesale produce business, and developed a reputation for buying and selling specialty produce. Her efforts at introducing and promoting kiwifruit earned her the “Queen of Kiwi” nickname.
Frieda’s has since introduced more than 200 fruits and vegetables to the U.S., according to the company.
“She saw the potential in specialty items and she went for it,” said Karen Caplan, her daughter and chief executive officer of Frieda’s. “It was a gutsy move, and that is what makes her such an inspiration for women in business.”
The Stevie Awards received more than 1,200 entries from individuals and organizations in 18 nations, and more than 240 executives participated in the judging.