Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, was recently featured on the Washington, D.C.-based International Women’s Forum (IWF) Game Changers podcast to talk about the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on food availability around the world. Caplan was joined by Karla Chambers, co-owner and co-founder of Stahlbush Island Farms based in Corvallis, Oregon, who is treasurer of IWF Oregon, and host Anne Doyle, president of IWF Michigan. Caplan also serves as the president of the Southern California chapter of IFW.
IWF is global network of more than 7,000 women leaders united to advance women’s leadership and champion human equity. Game Changers is a monthly conversation with some of the trailblazing members of the IWF. These women are policymakers, executives, pioneers and instigators of change. In the studio, they share stories of lessons learned and insights gained from their journeys.
Caplan and Chambers were able to provide unique, first-hand insights on the global food supply chain due to their roles within the fresh produce industry.
“There is no shortage of food, it’s all about the logistics,” Caplan said. “Because people are not traveling, not as many planes are available to fly freight to the U.S. and that has resulted in a challenged supply chain. We are seeing companies and organizations become so innovative right now, like the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box program.”
Caplan and Chambers also went on to discuss what lessons they have learned and their outlook for the future.
“I am grateful for our hard-working employees who come to work every day and help ensure we are able to pack the fruits and vegetables we grow on our farms,” Chambers said.
Caplan continued, “I’ve learned that the fresh produce industry is very resilient. When a door shuts, a window opens. There are always opportunities.”
She also delivered a parting thought that resonates with many in the produce industry: “COVID-19 has taught every citizen to truly value the farmers, their land and the labor needed to harvest and pack in a bigger way.”
Tune in to the podcast here.
Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been in business 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 her daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California.