This month marks 36 years since I became president and CEO of Frieda’s. It won’t be hard to do the math—I became president of the company when I was 30.

Industry news article featuring me (on the left) and my mom Frieda. Circa 1980.

Like most everyone, I definitely feel like I have so much more insight and wisdom now than I did at age 30. At 30 years old, I was very confident in some ways, and a bit insecure in others. In hindsight, I find that I had some things flipped. My self-confidence in some areas was actually wrong. But I survived and so did my company. So, if I had it to do over again, these are some of the things I would tell my 30-year-old self (some personal, some business):

1. Get a business coach right away.

At 30 years old, my first action after being appointed president was to apply to be a member of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization). I had heard about this incredible organization for young leaders and that you had to be 30 to be interviewed. But when I went to my interview, the panel’s first question was, “What does your husband think of you applying to be a member of YPO?” I was shocked, and besides saying that I had no idea what he thought, I asked them if they asked all their male applicants what their wives thought? It will come as no surprise that they did not invite me to join. However, I should have found another resource to coach me. A dozen years later, I finally joined another CEO organization—Vistage—and about 7 years ago I got a private executive coach. I think the best thing anyone in business can do is get a coach. Get someone who will be honest with you and give you tough feedback. As a leader, it is hard to get honest feedback from inside your organization.

2. Budgeting is important and can give you freedom.

On the business side, I started the annual budgeting process at the company after I’d been president for about 10 years. I took over the company at a time when all processes were manual. Once Lotus 1-2-3 was adopted (the pre-cursor to Excel), it made things so much easier. But I really wish I had educated myself sooner on the benefits of budgeting and finance in my personal life. I likely would not have bought so many cars or purchased so many houses, and I would’ve been more frugal in my spending. If you have kids, start them out at an early age meeting with a financial planner.


3. You don’t have to be married to do things socially.

Many of us felt the pressure to get married growing up. You know, date for a while, get married, and have two kids. Fit in. I felt a fair amount of pressure to be married when I was younger and was not comfortable much of the time socializing with other couples, unless I was part of a couple. Today, in 2022, there is so much more acceptance for being single, or going places by yourself, even in business. I wish I knew that I would be just fine going places by myself and not feeling like I had to have a date for every event I attended.


4. Listen to your mother and your father.

I recall so many things each of my parents said to me about business over the years, and I disregarded their suggestions. I was so hell-bent on making my own decisions that several times I did a 180 just to have my own idea and not take my parents’ advice. Over the years, I’ve found myself saying the same things my mom used to say to me (and I chuckle). “If I had only listened to her then!” 


Fortunately, I did learn to recognize the many wise pieces of advice my mom, Frieda, gave to me, and I now openly and generously give her credit. Especially when you have your own children—and you see them roll their eyes, unimpressed—you’re reminded of what you may have felt with your own parents. I oftentimes preface my comments to my daughters with, “Grandma used to say this to me, and I thought she was annoying. Now, I realize how smart she was.” You know, all mothers are annoying at some point! Even me.


5. It’s more important to be respected than to be liked, especially in business.

Listen to your gut. Oftentimes, as I was maturing in my business journey, I would have a negative feeling about something or someone. But I felt pressure to ignore those gut warnings. Most of the time I regretted that. My sister/business partner, Jackie, has reminded me many times about the importance of listening to my gut, and at least exploring the concern out loud. Do you ever have a bad feeling about someone or something, but don’t want to appear as if you are being negative or critical? I wish I had been less concerned about being liked then.

Today, both of my daughters are about the same age as I was when I became president: Alex is 32 and Sophia is 28. I’m hoping when they read this that they are able to embrace some of my insights and use them as they grow and develop as leaders and humans. If not now, maybe in another 30 years!

I feel like it’s a very exciting time for young people, as there are so many more resources available and so many more support systems.

What would you write to your 30-year-old self? What advice do you have?


Los Alamitos, CA (July 2022) – The famous, flavorful, limited-edition Hatch Chiles are back in season and the quality is some of the best we’ve seen in recent years. Frieda’s Branded Produce is kicking off the season with strong supplies and outstanding flavor.

Frieda’s works in partnership with certified, authentic growers located in Hatch, New Mexico—yes, there is a certification! This popular pepper supply is anticipated to pick up after the middle of July, with the season expected to continue through the end of September.

“Dedicated fans of the peppers drive across town—and state lines—to get their Hatch Chiles by the case,” said Alex Jackson, Director of Sales at Frieda’s. “We’re pleased to be part of the annual trek to enjoy these fresh, zesty authentically Hatch Valley-grown peppers.”

Frieda’s friendly and inviting pouch bag is designed to bring ‘Hatchlings’ (shoppers new to Hatch Chiles) into the fold, growing the community of Chile Heads year-over-year. According to a recent study 33% of shoppers avoid buying new fruits or vegetables because they don’t know how to use them. However, 48% of shoppers say that friendly, approachable packaging gets them over that hump to try something new. The Frieda’s packaging offers consumers descriptive flavor details and recipe inspiration that draws everyone into this irresistible pepper!

“Grown in the fertile rich soil of Hatch Valley, New Mexico, the warm dry summer days combined with cool crisp nights, helps create the perfect elements for the unique flavor of Hatch green chile peppers,” said Allen DeMo, Director of Procurement and Sourcing at Frieda’s. “This cannot be replicated in other regions of New Mexico. It’s unique to Hatch Valley product.”

Frieda’s offers Hatch Chiles in a branded 25-pound case, which can be used for side-stack displays, and in 1- and 2-pound retail pouches with convenient stickers guiding the consumer to choose between mild, medium, and hot heat levels.

Our dedicated team offers merchandising suggestions that drive higher traffic to your produce department, while increasing dollar ring and overall sales. Call your account manager today to receive samples and learn how to make a Hatch splash in your store this year!

Source: C+R 1,000 person study, 2022

About Frieda’s Inc.
Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce and Inspire. Taste. Love.

I love vegetables! I know that’s probably not a surprise to you since I am in the fresh fruit and vegetable business, but apart from the business, I just love eating vegetables. I love the crunch, I love the colors and I particularly love the flavors.

So, when I go out to dinner and am deciding what to order for my meal, I always look at the vegetable appetizers and side dishes.

Over the July 4th weekend, we went to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort near Coos Bay, Ore., and each evening chose a different option for dinner. On our last night at the golf mecca, we went to the highly recommended Pacific Grill. It had the look of your typical golf clubhouse, but when I saw the chef walking around the dining room when we arrived, I had a feeling I was in for a delicious surprise.

I immediately spotted what I was going to order: Grilled Carrot Salad.

Have you noticed that carrots are being featured on many menus these days? I refer to carrots as the “vegetable of the year,” as I have noticed that small fresh carrots, with the tops still on, have made a comeback. I see them on almost every menu when I go out to dinner.

Pacific Grill’s room-temperature carrots, arranged over a Mediterranean-inspired yogurt sauce, were to die for! I literally licked the plate.

Fast forward one week. This past weekend we had some friends over for dinner and I decided to make dinner for them. My most challenging decision each time I prepare a meal is which vegetables to make! And this was no exception.

All of a sudden it came to me—I would attempt to replicate the Grilled Carrot Salad from Bandon Dunes!

Most restaurants have started to list the main ingredients in their menu items to make their side dishes seem more enticing. So, I did a quick search of the menu, and—sure enough—all the ingredients were listed.

Spiced labneh (I substituted plain greek yogurt) and dukkah were the main ingredients (I made fresh dukkah using my mortar and pestle … another first!). I figured out a quick way to pickle raisins (I soaked them for a few hours in balsamic vinegar). And I roasted two bunches of long, fresh carrots (with a bit of the stem left on) early in the afternoon, then arranged them on a serving platter at room temperature so they would wilt and wrinkle a bit.

When dinnertime came, I felt so accomplished! I had created a new side dish for my dinner guests, inspired by a recent visit to an upscale restaurant.

Have you ever thought of doing this? Perhaps you are flipping through a magazine, or see photos on Instagram, and get the idea for a dish to prepare. You don’t have a recipe, but you can surely use your eyes to give you a vision of a recipe to create. 

Cooking this way makes me feel more creative and less like someone who has to follow a recipe exactly.

I would love to hear if you have created a new vegetable side dish recipe after being inspired. Please do share!


Los Alamitos, CA (July 2022) – As a family business, Frieda’s Branded Produce doesn’t play favorites. However, it’s hard to hide the excitement for passion fruit, named flavor of the year for 2022 by Food and Beverage flavor house, Monin.

Passion fruit is considered to be the largest berry of all berry-producing plants. An excellent communicator of ripeness, the passion fruit’s thick purple skin wrinkles when ripe. Under its expressive exterior are small, black, crunchy, edible seeds surrounded by a brightly colored pulp with a sweet and tart tropical flavor.

“We love to share our passion for our products, but it’s even more exciting when we see that the mainstream food industry has fallen in love too,” shared Cindy Sherman, director of marketing for Frieda’s Branded Produce. “Starbucks® addition of their Pineapple Passionfruit to their summer Refreshers® menu will introduce consumers to the vibrant flavor of this powerful berry.”

Traditionally used to make juices, passion fruit is this summer’s most versatile tropical flavor, elevating drinks, dressing up proteins and adding a burst of flavor to salads, grain bowls and smoothies. Like most tropical fruits, passion fruit shies away from cold climates, making it a powerful end-cap product for attention grabbing sales. Cross-promotionally, this fruit loves to be featured outside of the produce department with cocktail mixers and spirits, but also presents well within the produce department for consumers who simply want to enjoy the pulp with a spoon.

Passion fruit comes in many varieties. Frieda’s has tried them all and is most excited about the Florida grown Thailong variety, known to keep fresh longer, delivering a tasteful balance of tart and tropical flavors.

Call your Frieda’s account representative today for merchandising suggestions that drive higher traffic to your produce department and increase dollar ring and overall sales.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce and Inspire. Taste. Love.