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Sunrise Growers-Frozsun Foods in Placentia, CA, announced Feb. 4 that it has hired Mark Murai, president of the California Strawberry Commission, to fill the newly created position of vice president of strategy and development.

The commission's staff was notified Jan. 31 that Mr. Murai would be leaving to take a position at Sunrise but deferred to Sunrise to make the official public announcement.

"Mr. Murai's hiring is another MuraiMark Muraikey move in Sunrise Growers' strategy to expand their global presence, strengthen their sourcing capabilities, enhance sustainability programs and accelerate new business growth plans," according to a press release issued by Sunrise.

"Mark is a results-oriented executive with exceptional agricultural expertise ands strategic leadership," Ed Haft, president and chief executive officer of Sunrise Growers-Frozsun Foods, said in the press release. "This newly created position is pivotal to the future development and growth of our company. We will draw on Mark's knowledge of emerging farming and processing technologies, cutting-edge food-safety and sustainability practices, and thorough understanding of berry industry dynamics to enhance our supply chain, product innovation and, most importantly, customer satisfaction."

Mr. Murai, who was named president of the California Strawberry Commission in 2005, is a third-generation Orange County farmer who served for 17 years as a director of the commission prior to his being hired to joining the staff as its top executive. He also served as chairman of the commission in 2002-04.

According to a brief biography of Mr. Murai on the commission website, he "began growing strawberries on his family's farm in 1985, while still studying agricultural business management at Cal Poly-Pomona. He has served as a member of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and currently serves on the U.S. Trade Representative's Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee. He currently serves as vice chairman of the Alliance for Food & Farming."

According to the Sunrise release, Mr. Murai led the commission to execute landmark initiatives in global trade, food safety, actionable crop research and extensive medical research into the health benefits of berries.

"I am honored to have had the opportunity to lead the commission and to develop key strategies that will support the healthy future growth of our industry," Mr. Murai said in the press release. "Sunrise Growers-Frozsun Foods captured my attention as an industry leader. Ed and his team have developed a strong customer-driven approach to the business and a results-oriented culture that is in line with my principles. Through my years at the commission, I know that consumers seek a highly satisfying strawberry experience in both fresh and frozen products. At a time when berry consumption is on the rise, I look forward to building on the company's strong momentum while finding new opportunities for growth and innovation."

Sunrise Growers-Frozsun Foods is a leading grower and marketer of fresh and processed strawberries. On the frozen side, the company's product list includes an assortment of frozen berries and other fruits as well as other processed fruit products such as toppings and smoothies.