The California Strawberry Commission has secured approval from the government of China to provide strawberries to athletes and attendees during the Beijing Olympics in August, 2008.

This is an historic step for the California strawberry industry. Discussions between California Strawberry Commission President Mark Murai and China's trade negotiators began in 2007 when Chinese Olympic athletes requested strawberries as one of their top three choices of fruit to eat during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. (Source: Beijing Fruit Industry Association, 2007 survey) Strawberries are a natural fit for the Olympics in China: red is considered an auspicious and powerful color in China and strawberries are one of the healthiest foods athletes can eat to help recover from physical stress.

“We are excited and honored to be able to fulfill the athletes' request for strawberries during the Olympic Games”, says Mark Murai. “Strawberries from California are available all year and particularly during August, when strawberries are not grown in China. It's a situation that will benefit everyone.”

China produces strawberries for a short period of time during the spring. California's unique coastal environment creates an excellent place to grow strawberries all year. Fresh shipments in 2007 totaled a record 147 million trays, an increase of more than 9 percent over 2006. California already ships strawberries to Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Totals for all 3 countries in 2007 for fresh and frozen California strawberries were $41,935,000 and 23,766,860 pounds.

The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency that represents an industry of more than 500 growers and 60 shippers and processors of California strawberries. With a focus on food safety education, Commission strategies also include production and nutrition research, trade relations, public policy and marketing communications.

For more information contact the California Strawberry Commission at 831.724.1301 or e-mail mdegroat@calstrawberry.org.