I had the chance to chat on Nov. 12 with Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif.
11:01 a.m. Karen Caplan: Hi Tom.
11:02 a.m. Tom Karst: Hello Karen. You are right on time. Thanks for having this chat today! First of all, what do you find yourself working on this week? What’s in your inbox at Frieda’s?
11:05 a.m. Karen: After two days out with “flu-like symptoms” I had a lot of catching up to do. First thing was a meeting with my Marketing Manager to get an update on our Social Media Marketing Plan.
Tom: Twitter and the like ...
11:06 a.m. Karen: Twitter is only one application. Then I’ve been getting constant instant messages from our sales team about big orders that have come in … it’s a big week, as we are shipping a lot for Thanksgiving business.
11:07 a.m. Karen: It looks like retailers are realizing that “everyone will be shopping big in their stores” ... and they are stocking up. Nice to see.
11:08 a.m. Tom: Speaking of Thanksgiving and how retailers order, do you notice changes in the product mix this year ... perhaps recession related or other factors at work?
11:10 a.m. Karen: As far as product mix this year, we have seen a definite air of caution as far as risk taking, on new items especially. We anticipated this about two years ago, which is why we modified our product mix and reduced our item count — doing “SKU RAT” before it was well publicized in the retail community.
11:14 a.m. Tom: Interesting. I was just talking with a retailer about deflation and it is something that’s difficult for them to work through.
11:15 a.m. Karen: Monday — I spent the day in Sacramento — I am on the Board of the Ag Issues Center based at UC Davis. We got an update on MOCA — The Measure of California Agriculture which is THE source of information on what we really do in California. Our board of about eight thought leaders in California agriculture provides guidance on future research initiatives for the University of California.
11:16 a.m. Tom: There is much at issue for California agriculture. That’s sounds like a vital group with all the water and food safety issues right now.
11:18 a.m. Karen: At the AIC we been talking about water for many years. Coincidentally, my advisor when I was a student at UCD is Richard Howitt — the authority on Water Policy and he has spoken to us many times.