The California Strawberry Commission Board of Directors has unanimously approved a 2005 budget of $8.5 million and a new strategic direction during its recent annual meeting in Newport Beach, Calif.

The new Strategic Plan will cause significant change in committee and staff structure, and emphasis. “The commission's goal is to be knowledge-based, issues-focused and fully aligned with member needs,” says Rodger Wasson, president of the California Strawberry Commission. “It's an unusual move for a commission and I applaud the many members who helped develop the plan. I'm confident the resulting knowledge and focus will benefit consumers, retail trade customers and industry members alike.”

Board committees and commission staff will be reorganized into four key function areas:

Product research and information.

Production research and information.

Public policy.

Public relations.

Product research is the foundation of the “Be Well, Get the Red Edge” nutrition program. The board has determined that more nutrition research is required to increase the understanding of how strawberries impact heart health, memory and the risk of cancer.

‘Time for change’

The board also wants more production research, which will focus on pesticide alternatives, soil disease controls, regulatory analysis and grower education. The area of public policy will include managing issues and government regulations, and public relations will handle industry and consumer communications, media relations and consumer research.

“It's time for a change,” says Wasson. “While we'll maintain communications with retailers and other trade customers, the commission needs to achieve what can't be done by an individual member or company and be more focused on industry issues and research. We're on course to begin implementing the plan by March.”

The California Strawberry Commission supports and represents the California strawberry industry with programs in research, education, public relations and public policy. The commission represents an industry of over 600 growers, shippers and processors.

For further information about the California Strawberry Commission go to www.calstrawberry.com or call (831) 724-1301.