Cynthia DavidMarie Gosselin became president-elect Aug. 24 at the Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention.MONTREAL — Things are looking up for women in the produce industry, said Marie Gosselin, who took office as president-elect Aug. 24 at the Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention.
“It took 60 years for QPMA to have its first female president,” Gosselin told the nearly 700 delegates at the closing banquet, referring to Bernadette Hamel of Metro Inc., “and only five years for the second, so that’s not too bad.”
Gosselin, a mother of two, is president and chief executive officer of major Quebec greenhouse grower Les Serres du St-Laurent Inc., producers of Savoura-brand tomatoes.
She has worked at the Portneuf-based company since its founding in 1988, when there was no greenhouse or tomatoes in sight. She now oversees more than 40 acres under glass.
The new president began working in produce at a young age, packing potatoes for her father during summer vacation. Then her father decided to grow strawberries, and put her and her siblings in charge of selling them. At 14 she was organizing roadside stands and a booth at the local farmers markets.
While she was studying agribusiness at university, her father sold his potato company.
“When he decided to invest in a greenhouse,” she said, “I told him I’d take care of sales.”
Gosselin has also lent her marketing skills to QPMA for the past decade, and was part of the committee that launched the successful I love 5 to 10 a day campaign. Since 2004, QPMA members have invested close to $2 million to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables in Quebec.
“We’re proud of the recognition the campaign has received,” she said. “Now we’re working a lot through social media, and we’re targeting women and the hotel and restaurant industry.”
She said her success in business comes from being passionate, tenacious and creative. “And I work hard,” she said. “I want to know everything. I want to be involved with everything.”
While being a woman in the produce industry hasn’t always been easy, Gosselin said she’s pleased to see more and more women joining the industry,
“We don’t always see things the same way men do,” she said, “and sometimes our ideas surprise them.”
With a full-time QPMA staff of five women and a new female president, “you’re going to be in good hands,” she told the crowd.