April is our company’s anniversary month; we launched on April 2, 1962. So one of our traditions is that we sponsor our local produce organization luncheon each April as a way to celebrate our anniversary and give back to the Fresh Produce & Floral Council.

My daughter Alex Jackson represents us as our spokesperson and she gave a five-minute talk. I want to share some of the highlights.

The audience at the luncheon is made up of produce people from age 20 to 92 (my mom, Frieda, was there), so Alex took the opportunity to share some fun facts about the different generations and their styles of grocery shopping.

Portraits of people thinking

Traditionalists — Born before 1946. Also known as “The Silent Generation.” They spend the least amount of money during their shopping trips, but take the most time going through the store.

Baby Boomers — Born between 1946 and 1964. They were excited to raise their hands and be recognized during the luncheon. Baby Boomers are reaching the age where their income is more disposable and most don’t have kids to support, so they spend however they want. Though interested in name brands and loyal to those brands, Baby Boomers like sales, bargains, and shopping online (just like their millennial children). However, customer service, particularly helpful salespeople and produce managers, keeps them loyal to stores.

Generation X — Born between 1965 and 1980. This group oftentimes feels forgotten or unheard. Generation Xers are independent. They don’t love shopping as much as Baby Boomers and Millennials, but they’re more than willing to try a new brand. They are a little skeptical and cynical, so they are won over with superior quality and customer service. You need to exceed their expectations.

Millennials — Born between 1981 and 2000. Sometimes referred to as Generation Y. They will be 50 percent of the workforce by the year 2020! They will spend more than $200 billion annually, starting in 2017. Millennials are loyal to brands that treat them well and, in case you haven’t heard, they want to be catered to.

So why did Alex talk about the four generations at the luncheon? To highlight that many companies are making changes to their packaging and branding to be more appealing to the powerful millennial tidal wave that is coming our way.

For example, restaurant chain Daphne’s Greek Café has been transformed into Yalla Mediterranean, a build-your-own restaurant. Like Chipotle, Yalla lets you customize your meal, which is what Millennials want from a restaurant.

Slide7

Rubio’s Baja Grill is now Rubio’s Coastal Cuisine, saying its menu items are “made with a mission.” The chain now features California-grown avocados and wild Alaskan salmon. Millennials want to spend money on brands that are doing more than just feeding them. They want to spend their money at restaurants that are giving back to the community, working with local growers, and making them feel good about their purchases.

Slide8

Companies within the produce industry are also doing more to appeal to Millennials.

Love Beets’ flavored beets packaging has smiles on it so the beets look happy to see you!

Slide9

Village Farms is giving its tomato varieties and packages witty names.

Slide10

And at Frieda’s, well we recently went through a brand refresh as well. We redesigned our packaging to make it more appealing to millennial shoppers (and the rest of us who want to feel young). Our products now appeal to their desire to try something new every day. Millennials are also willing to spend more money on a fresh produce item that they’ve never seen before that will inspire them to try a new recipe.

Slide11Slide12

Now when you hear about the different generations, you’ll know what they mean and why they are different. And if you see that the packaging (color and type) has changed on one of your favorite foods or any product you purchase, you’ll be able to guess that the company didn’t just hire a new marketing director, it is actually trying to appeal to its ideal shopper. And be more relevant.

And that’s what it’s all about! Being relevant.

Karen

Donations to benefit 5,500 local students

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Let's Move Salad Bar to School Donation - Oak Middle School - Los Alamitos, California
Students and officials from Oak Middle School in Los Alamitos, California, enjoying their new salad bar.

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (April 2016) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce, through the United Fresh Start Foundation, donated three salad bars to Los Alamitos Unified School District schools in Los Alamitos, California, where the company is headquartered.

“We’re so pleased to be able to support salad bars for schools in our local community, encouraging healthy choices for children in our hometown,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “These donations are especially meaningful as my sister Jackie [Caplan Wiggins, vice president and COO] and I both attended Los Alamitos schools.” The schools receiving salad bars from the Frieda’s donation include Oak Middle School, McAuliffe Middle School, and Los Alamitos High School.

At the start of the school year, the Los Alamitos School District had salad bars in all of its schools, however the ones at the middle and high schools were old and in disrepair. The Frieda’s donation is providing new salad bars for the district’s middle and high schools, ensuring these students can continue to have access to fresh produce choices every day.

According to Celeste Calubaquib, director of food services for the school district, “We greatly appreciate this generous donation from Frieda’s and look forward to stocking our new salad bars with a variety of healthy, fresh produce choices each day. The salad bar helps encourage our students to select fruits and veggies. Thank you, Frieda’s!”

The salad bar donations were coordinated with the United Fresh Start Foundation, supporting the national “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” initiative. To date, salad bars have been donated to more than 4,600 schools nationwide, benefiting nearly 3 million children every school day. This includes 1,060 salad bars for California schools, the most of any state.

Research and experience in schools across the country demonstrate that children significantly increase their fruit and vegetable consumption when given a variety of choices from a school salad bar. When offered multiple fruit and vegetable choices, children respond by incorporating greater variety and increasing their overall consumption. Salad bars empower students to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables, ultimately increasing children’s daily consumption.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

About Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools is a public health campaign to increase salad bars in schools across the country so that every child has the choice of healthy fruits and vegetables every day at school. Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation. Founding partners are the United Fresh Start Foundation, National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, Chef Ann Foundation, and Whole Foods Market.

About the United Fresh Start Foundation

The United Fresh Start Foundation is focused exclusively on increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and inspiring the next generation to “choose fresh” whenever and wherever they are eating their next snack or meal. Working with the produce industry, local nonprofits, healthcare organizations, allied businesses, and others, the United Fresh Start Foundation is committed to helping today’s youth achieve the public health goal of making half their plate fruits and vegetables in order to live longer, healthier lives. Join our movement to ensure kids everywhere are “Growing Up Fresh!”

Save

Retailers prepare as the ‘spice of the year’ catches on with shoppers

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (April 2016) – The turmeric trend shows no sign of stopping as it moves from juice bars into coffeehouses, from family kitchens to restaurants, and from baking aisles to center store and fresh perimeters.

Dubbed “Spice of the Year” for 2016 by the Baum+Whiteman report [PDF], fresh turmeric root has been growing steadily as a staple of the healthy eating and juicing set. The new food trend of “golden milk,” turmeric-infused dairy or plant-based milk, has recently emerged and is gaining popularity. Turmeric-infused almond milk and turmeric-dusted coconut chips are among many turmeric food products seen all over the recent Natural Products Expo West.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Turmeric Chai

More shoppers are learning about the anti-inflammatory health benefits of turmeric from health magazines and news articles, and they are now looking for fresh roots. Recipes often call for both fresh turmeric and fresh ginger together, so retailers should merchandise turmeric and ginger roots together. Juicing sections are also a magnet for health conscious consumers and a great place to feature turmeric, along with other juicing favorites like kale and young coconut.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Juicing destination

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has consistent supplies of fresh turmeric root from Jamaica and Fiji available in convenient 6-ounce and 8-ounce clamshells, and in bulk.

Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s account managers about turmeric and other trending products, and gain access to Frieda’s extensive product information, high resolution images, and recipe database.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.

As an employer, I always wonder what should or could be my role in helping the people who work for Frieda’s make healthier food choices.

It’s kind of a difficult position to be in.

When people join a company, they don’t expect to have their employer help them make better food choices. But this has been something I’ve been struggling with for a number of years.

Like most companies, we have a community lunchroom—with vending machines. One has refrigerated beverages, offering Coke, Pepsi, iced tea, and water. The other one has salty snacks and candy.

For more than five years, my sister and business partner Jackie and I have toyed with the idea of finding healthier options to offer our employees.

What if we removed all the sugary beverages from the machine, and only offered water and natural juices?

Or how about replacing the current snack machine, with one that only offers fresh fruits and veggies, and other healthy snack foods?

When I mention this to some of my colleagues here at Frieda’s, I get an enormous amount of push back.

“The employees will revolt if they can’t get their full-sugar sodas.”

“They are spending their own money, so why should we care?”

“It’s not our place to mandate what they can choose as snacks.”

So it was with great interest that I read a recent article from Bloomberg: “5 Things Businesses Can Do to Fight Obesity.” Here’s what was recommended:

  1. Fix the food in the workplace.
  2. Help employees meet their goals.
  3. Make it easy for customers to eat well.
  4. Consider the community.
  5. Change the food supply.

The article points to places like The Cleveland Clinic (which obviously is all about getting people well) that offered fast food in their cafeteria. They removed deep fryers from their kitchens and changed their food offerings to healthy ones. They made it easier to buy bottled water. They decided that if employees want to drink sugary drinks, they had the choice to bring them from home.

So, what I’ve been thinking about doing at Frieda’s includes:

  1. #Eatingbyexample and jumping into our industry initiative by offering—free of charge— fresh fruits and veggies in the company lunchroom for our employees to snack on.
  2. Changing out the choices in our vending machines to offer only non-sugar-filled beverages.
  3. Installing an additional vending machine with healthy snacks, where the cost will be subsidized by Frieda’s as a way to encourage employees to make healthier choices.
  4. Setting a deadline (perhaps the first day of summer?) for when the sugary snack machine will be removed and replaced with the healthier choice vending machine.
  5. Offering healthy-eating cooking classes at Frieda’s to educate our employees on how to make healthier choices at home for themselves and for their families.

So, obviously we’re talking about “walking the walk.” How can I, in good conscience, say my company is committed to changing the way people eat fresh fruits and veggies, if I don’t start making those same choices available right at my own company?

And the same thing applies to each of you. When you have a party at your house, is everything high fat and sugar? Or do you always offer healthy options like fresh fruits and veggies? Each of us has the option of creating healthier choices for our friends and family.

So, my challenge to you is to be a good example.

Think about it.

Karen

Save

Frieda's Specialty Produce - OC Weekly - Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan - Shane Lopes - Gustavo Arellano
Photo by Shane Lopes for OC Weekly

Our 92-year-old founder, Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, was surprised and delighted when OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano came calling for an interview for the March 2016 “People” issue.

“Frieda Caplan Taught America How to Fear No Fruit,” says the headline.

Knowing what we’re going to want to eat years before we know it: That’s the Frieda’s way. She called the move toward organic and fair-trade decades before anyone else and thinks we’re undergoing a fundamental change in our diet, one Caplan’s company is ready to capitalize on.

“Americans are eating less meat than ever before,” Caplan says with a hearty laugh. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

Yes, it is, Dr. Frieda. Yes, it is.

Save

Conventional and organic rhubarb step out of the oven and into the juicer

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Rhubarb for juicing

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (April 2016) – Rhubarb is not just for pies and preserves anymore. This tart vegetable is making a comeback, thanks partly to retro-chic food trends and home-canning popularity, but mostly to the juicing trend.

In addition to classic dishes like strawberry rhubarb pie and preserves, shoppers are adding rhubarb to their vegetable and fruit juice blends for its refreshing tartness.

“We see more demand for rhubarb every year and even more requests for the organic variety,” Alex Jackson, senior account manager and organic product manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “We have a great supply with gorgeous color this year to answer that demand.”

Display organic rhubarb in your wet rack near other juicing vegetables, like carrots and beets, with signage to boost impulse buys.

U.S.-grown organic rhubarb is available from Frieda’s Specialty Produce now through July. Conventional U.S. product is available now through September, and Holland import season starts in November or December.

In addition to rhubarb, Frieda’s Specialty Produce also offers in-demand spring organic items such as lychee, fennel, finger limes, and its signature Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes.

Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s account managers to get a complete list of available organic items and other trending products, and gain access to Frieda’s extensive product information, high resolution images, and recipe database.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a nearly 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Well, if that title doesn’t catch your attention, then I don’t know what will.

Last weekend while attending a produce conference in San Antonio, Texas, I was able to meet and hear Drew Ramsey, M.D., who co-authored the cookbook “Fifty Shades of Kale.” His day job is as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University in New York City. He is also a leading proponent of eating for brain health.

After hours, he is better known as the co-founder of National Kale Day, which is celebrated every year on October 5.

Dr. Ramsey’s premise is that if you choose foods that feed your brain (admittedly the most important organ in your body), it will help ensure a well-functioning body and predict your current and future health.

50 Shades Cover

Highlights from his talk:

Dr. Ramsey talked about the top 11 food plants, in terms of nutrient density. It’s not a surprise that most of them are trending and showing up more often in produce departments and on top restaurant menus:

  1. Maroon carrots
  2. Spinach
  3. Red cabbage
  4. Garlic
  5. Peppers
  6. Broccoli
  7. Asparagus
  8. Lemons
  9. Strawberries
  10. Brussels sprouts
  11. Kale

In case you’re wondering how kale got to be so “suddenly popular,” here is “The Rise of Kale,” according to Dr. Ramsey:

Dr. Ramsey is a prolific writer and his byline appears regularly in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Men’s Journal. He has a new book coming out next month, “Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients that Fuel Brain Power, Boost Weight Loss and Transform Your Health.”

What I liked most about Drew is that he is approachable, humble, married with two young children, and is sincerely passionate about his work. After his talk, I listened to him patiently answer question after question from audience members who had individual, personal, health questions.

I already pre-ordered his book. And I have made some changes and tweaks to my diet to add more good fats. Thank goodness I already eat a diet rich in his top 11 plant foods.

How about you?

Karen

P.S. Here is a photo of Dr. Ramsey and me after his talk. DrewRamsey

 

 

Karen Caplan of Frieda’s will speak on exotic fruits April 13 & 14 

cpma-logo

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (April 2016) – At this year’s CPMA Convention, two Retail Produce Manager Sessions will focus on product knowledge from key industry suppliers. Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, will highlight tropical fruits, joined by Les Mallard of Chiquita Brands North America on bananas, Sammy Duda of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. on celery, and Dani Sweet of Sunset on Greenhouse/Hothouse Produce. Larry McIntosh from Peak of the Market will be the session moderator.

The free sessions take place both April 13 and 14 to accommodate retail produce managers and independent store owners from across Canada. Attendees will gain insights into the produce industry supply chain, improve their produce knowledge, and learn how to offer more value to their customers.

“We appreciate all four presenters making themselves available to help educate our retail produce managers,” said Ron Lemaire, President of CPMA. “These sessions are a great opportunity to learn how the produce they sell is grown and merchandised, including the growing category of specialty produce.”

After the sessions, participants are invited to a complimentary lunch, followed by a walk of the trade show floor to meet with exhibitors and explore produce displays. The sessions are sponsored by Tanimura & Antle, Canadawide Fruit Wholesalers Inc., Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Mastronardi Produce Ltd./Sunset, and Catania Worldwide.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a nearly 54-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, habanero peppers, Sunchokes®, and organic finger limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Tomorrow, April 2, is a very special day. It is “Love Your Produce Manager®” Day, a national day first celebrated in 2012.

I usually make a point of going into my local Ralphs where I shop and saying a special “thanks” to my produce manager, Paul. Last year, I even wrote about one of my produce guys, Carlos.

This year, I am in San Antonio, Texas, attending a produce trade show called “Viva Fresh.” It’s mostly Texan and Mexican growers and buyers having conversations and displaying their produce. I arrived a day early and naturally took the afternoon to visit supermarkets.

If you’re from Texas, especially the San Antonio area, you probably shop at HEB Grocery or their sister company, upscale retailer Central Markets. HEB is the quintessential, privately held retailer that has oodles of hometown pride. The company is based here in San Antonio, but has stores in many parts of Texas.

So, as I visited a few of the markets during the afternoon, my timing seemed impeccable. I was able to say hello to every single one of the produce managers at each of the stores. I was traveling with a colleague from work; she commented to me how friendly and interested each of the produce managers and all the produce personnel were when we said hello. Of course, I know that’s part of the culture at HEB, but I also know that in Texas, people in general are exceptionally friendly, in contrast to the fast-paced, always-in-a-hurry approach we have in Southern California.

I’d like to introduce you to Jacob, the produce manager at one of the stores.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's On Karen's Plate - Blog - HEB Produce Manager Jacob

You can see from his name badge that he has been with HEB for 10 years. And from his big smile, you can tell that he really enjoys his job.

As I was getting ready to say goodbye to Jacob, he asked me if I had said hello to their foodie, Ramiro. I had heard of Ramiro, as he has contacted our office many times, asking for information about our products, but I had no idea he was actually in this store.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's On Karen's Plate - Blog - HEB Foodie Ramiro

Yes, his business card says, “Foodie.” He shared with me that he went to culinary school in Chicago and was actually a trained pastry chef for an upscale retailer there. He moved to Texas a few years ago and is passionate about educating people—especially children—about healthy eating. And he works almost full time at the HEB store, sampling fresh produce, educating consumers about new foods, and demonstrating easy recipes to inspire them.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's On Karen's Plate - Blog - HEB Foodie Ramiro
And that’s when I was reminded about Love Your Produce Manager Day. I wondered how many produce managers out there are like Jacob and his colleague Ramiro who have worked for their companies for many years. They love inspiring their shoppers to try new fresh produce items. They keep their displays fresh and full.

Wouldn’t it be great if, as a consumer, you made a special effort next time you are in your market to ask for the produce manager and tell him/her in person how much you appreciate his/her hard work? You can also say thanks for helping you feed healthy foods to your family.

I think you would make their day!

And what if you snapped a selfie of you and your produce manager, and posted it for all your friends to see on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? That’s what it’s all about! Feel free to share your photos with us by including hashtag #LYPM.

That’s how we #InspireTasteLove.

Have a great weekend!

Karen

P.S. April 2 is also our company anniversary. Happy 54th anniversary to Frieda’s Specialty Produce!