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Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates Love Your Produce Manager Day, which the Los Alamitos, Calif.-based company began in 2012 in honor of Frieda’s 50th anniversary, on April 2, which aims to shine the spotlight on supermarket produce managers who play a key role in making a variety of unique fruits and vegetables available to U.S. consumers.
The occasion took hold 51 years ago, when a shopper walked into a Salt Lake City supermarket and asked the produce manager for “Chinese gooseberries.” The produce manager asked his buyer, and the buyer contacted specialty produce purveyor, Frieda Caplan, founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, who had just received the first U.S. shipment of Chinese gooseberries, which were later named kiwifruit.
“This is what [our] founder and my mother, Frieda Caplan, calls ‘the power of one’,” said Karen Caplan, Frieda’s president and CEO of the specialty produce company that bears her mother’s name. “Without requests from produce managers, shoppers may never see the variety of produce that is now considered commonly available today,” such as fennel, mini sweet peppers and dragon fruit. “The conversations produce managers have with consumers pave the way for us to bring to the market even more unique and exciting products, like Stokes purple sweet potatoes, Kiwano melons, Fiore viola purple artichokes and kale sprouts.”
This is why Frieda’s wants to encourage shoppers everywhere to “love their produce managers,” by talking to them, asking them about what’s in season and what tastes good, explains Caplan, who advises that if they can’t find something, to request it.