(Jan. 11) Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., is making a big push into foodservice, having formed a partnership with Fresh Connect LLC.

Fresh Connect, the Chicago-based sales and marketing firm, will represent Frieda’s to foodservice buyers nationwide.

“Our focus has been almost solely on the retail side of the business,” said Karen Caplan, Frieda’s president and chief operating officer. “We’ve had foodservice business for probably 20 years, but it’s been through wholesale customers who sell to companies like Sysco. This is the first time we’ve had a dedicated sales team selling directly to Sysco, FreshPoint, U.S. Foodservice and companies like that.”

Fresh Connect president Andy Siegel said that in addition to selling to foodservice distributors, his company and Frieda’s are working with research and development chefs with restaurant operators to develop new products.

“Frieda’s is the most exciting addition we’ve had since we started Fresh Connect,” said Siegel, whose company also represents Gill’s Onions, Oxnard, Calif.; Prima Bella Produce Inc., Tracy, Calif.; Chiquita Brands International, Cincinnati; and The Herbal Garden, Chicago. “It really puts us in the top tier. We deal with a lot of companies, but not with a history of innovation like Frieda’s.”

Caplan declined to project how much Frieda’s volume might increase because of the alliance. She said Frieda’s started working with Fresh Connect on a limited basis before forming an official partnership in November.

“Interest has been explosive, and sales aren’t far behind,” she said.

Siegel said Fresh Connect has 12 regional sales representatives working in major markets across the country as well as offices in Chicago and Oxnard.