LAS VEGAS — Lorri Koster, vice president of marketing and co-chairwoman of Mann Packing Co., Salinas, Calif., was honored at the 2010 Women in Produce reception for her contributions to the produce industry at the United Fresh Produce Association’s convention.

“I am tremendously proud to not only have grown up in but worked” in the produce industry, Koster said.

Koster was the featured speaker at the April 21 reception, an event that recognizes all women in the produce industry. Koster was chosen from nominations submitted by United Fresh members.

Though her life and career through Mann Packing has been marked by the unexpected deaths of her brother and father, her sisters and company employees were critical in keeping the business growing and helping Koster during difficult times, she said.

Koster credited her — and the company’s — ability to adapt as instrumental to ensure Mann Packing remained relevant.

“I am grateful for you,” Koster said of Mann’s customers.

Heather Shavey, assistant general merchandising manager of produce at Costco Wholesale Corp., who received the 2009 recognition, said Koster was chosen because of family ties to produce and extensive involvement in a variety of industry groups and causes.

“Lorri is deeply rooted in Salinas,” Shavey said.

Koster has served in high-level industry positions, including a term as chairman for the International Fresh-cut Produce Association’s board of directors, and she was the first woman to lead a national U.S. produce trade association, according to United Fresh. Koster also serves on boards of the Grower Shipper Association of Central California, United Fresh and the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

United Fresh’s new chairwoman, Steffanie Smith, chief executive officer for onion grower-shipper River Point Farms LLC, Hermiston, Ore., said the increasing number of women in the industry and the record number of nominations this year shows how important women are to the future.

The event began 17 years ago. The Packer is a sponsor of the event.

Note on correction: Heather Shavey's title was listed incorrectly. Her correct title is assistant general merchandising manager of produce at
Costco Wholesale Corp.

United Fresh honors Mann Packing’s Lorri Koster

Dawn Withers

Lorri Koster, co-chairwoman of Mann Packing, says she's proud to work in the produce industry at the United Fresh Women in Produce reception April 21 in Las Vegas.