NEW ORLEANS – Proving that family roots run deep in the produce industry, Lorri Koster earned the Marketer of the Year award from The Packer 29 years after her father won the same award at the Produce Marketing Association"s Fresh Summit in 1984.
Greg Johnson, editor of The Packer, presented the award Oct. 20 during the final general session of this year"s show. Koster is chief executive officer for Mann Packing Co., Salinas, Calif.
The company is one of the largest suppliers of fresh broccoli and has more than 35 fresh vegetable items under the Sunny Shores brand.
"This year"s honoree has accomplished so many things in her career, but what really sets her and her company apart over the last year or so is their ability to bring new products to market and get consumers, young and old, to eat their vegetables," Johnson told the convention attendees.
One such product, Johnson said, is a unique line of four Veggie Mac-n-Cheese meals for children. All four include broccoli and were finalists for PMA"s impact award for packaging. That tradition continues at Fresh Summit this year with the company introducing two new chopped vegetable salads: Cantina Crunch and Asian Citrus Crunch.
"These new products follow successful company lines such as Broccolini, Broccoli Slaw, Sugar Snap Peas and its veggie trays," Johnson said.
Johnson said The Packer"s selection of Koster as marketer of the year is partly based on how many in the industry describe her, using the same adjectives as they have for previous winners.
"This year"s honoree has been described as many before: passionate, innovative, intelligent, driven. But I think one stands out more than the others: A peer said she has a sincere love for the produce industry," Johnson said.
In addition to her work with her family-owned company Koster has volunteered for many industry activities. She has worked with PMA, United Fresh Produce Marketing Association, Western Growers, Produce for Better Health, the former fresh-cut association and her brother"s memorial golf tournament.
A new format at Fresh Summit had honorees prerecord acceptance remarks and Koster"s main theme was her family. She thanked them for the opportunities and support. She also thanked the industry.
"I have a deep sense of gratification to my family," Koster said in her recorded remarks, adding that the industry is her extended family and an inspiration for her to continue to reach for new successes.