Coupled with that has been the nutrition research and health and wellness benefits that have been an important component of why consumers are eating berries as part of their daily diets, he said.
The strawberry commission’s public policy efforts, another of Murai’s objectives, have significantly strengthened over the past few years, he said.
“We have strong connections with our decision makers — locally and at the federal level and even the international level.”
In foreign trade, the commission has been successful in maintaining markets abroad, exposing other countries to what is happening in the berry category in the U.S. and managing trade and phytosanitary requirements, he said.
“We continue to pursue the opening of mainland China with great optimism,” he said. “We have some technical and trade barriers to overcome, but I think eventually it will happen.”
As he stepped down from his post, Murai said he was grateful for the backing he received from the industry.
“I’m humbled by the support that the commission and myself have received on all fronts to help us do our job,” he said.
“Change is good,” he said, as he recounted his reasons for his latest career move.
“I had deep admiration for (chief executive officer) Ed Haft and his company. The growth and the business opportunity with their model were very appealing.”
On a personal level, he said he looked forward to being closer to his family in Southern California.
“I’m excited to come back home,” he said.