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Frieda's has rich history of female leadership

By
Keith Loria

It’s been a little more than a year since Frieda’s Branded Produce was acquired by Legacy Produce, and the company has been enjoying what has come since the deal.

“When the company was sold in 2023, it was the beginning of a new chapter for Frieda’s Branded Produce,” said Alex Jackson, vice president of sales and procurement for the Los Alamitos, CA-based company. “No longer family, or women-owned, we were strategic in aligning with an organization that has supported our mission to inspire healthy, new food experiences, affording Frieda’s new growth opportunities without compromising the magic of the brand.”

Customers and consumers have only felt change positively, with a broader selection of Frieda’s products.

“We are really enjoying the moments of celebration and growth in 2024,” Jackson said. “This January, we recognized our Stokes Purple Sweet Potato as Veganuary’s Vegetable of the Year. The popularity of this sweet potato has allowed us to elevate its availability to consumers, ensuring more households are adopting this superfood into their diet.”

Frieda’s is a female-founded company and it has always been vital that it continues to

model the visionary spirit of founder Frieda Rapoport Caplan, who paved the way for women in the produce and wholesale industry. She was the first woman in the U.S. to own and operate a produce company on the all-male Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market.

“I’m honored to be able to continue to celebrate and elevate her legacy,” Jackson said. “Throughout my career, many notable women have taken the time to guide my trajectory. I firmly believe that we need women to continue to lift one another up, reaching back to bring those behind them along for the collective betterment of the future of our industry.”

Two other influential women at the company were Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, who served the family business as CEO and COO for nearly 30 years.

What has made Frieda’s stand out in the industry for the last 60 years, in addition to its innovative product introductions, is being the first company to hire women in sales roles.

“When you speak with produce legends like Tonya Antle and Dawn Gray, you hear stories of how Frieda would make women feel valued by hiring them for roles that only men

historically filled in our industry,” Jackson said. “That instilled a culture at Frieda’s where women have always been at the table. Women have held positions as CFOs, directors of marketing, operations managers, and directors of national accounts, and we continue to promote women within our organization.”

Current CEO Dan Madsen has continued this legacy by supporting professional development initiatives and internal career growth.

“Knowing that Frieda, Karen, and Jackie’s creation of women’s development in the industry is supported by our male-identifying leaders builds confidence that our company and our industry will continue to promote the growth of women,” Jackson said.

Photo: Alex Jackson, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins.

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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