Murrells, who left Tesco after Christmas having overseen the integration of garden centre chain Dobbies, takes up his post on 7 October. He will report to Carsten Jakobsen, Tulip's UK chairman and vice CEO of parent company Danish Crown, who had informally assumed the dual role of chairman and CEO of Tulip in the UK.
"I will be helping to shape the future of the UK operation," said Murrells. "I am looking forward to working with my new colleagues to build on Tulip's market-leading position and am confident we will continue to be at the very fore of the UK's food manufacturing industry."
Murrells has a long history in fresh food retailing.He joined Tesco in 1992, from his role as a buying department head at Sainsbury's. At Tesco he initially held a variety of buying positions in the dairy and meat category, before being promoted to category manager. He has also held the role of category manager for fresh produce, where he was credited with increasing Tesco's level of British-sourced fruit and veg and developing closer links between the retailer and farmers.
More recently, he was chief executive of One Stop stores. And prior to the Dobbies role, he was commercial director for fresh foods at Tesco.
"Steve brings vast retail experience enabling Tulip to become even more customer-focused in the future," said Jakobsen, adding that the company's strategy was all about delivering value to retailers.
The addition of an experienced UK industry figure would boost the company's attempts to be seen as a "local supplier" in the UK market, Jakobsen said. The company last year created the London Banger brand and has pledged to grow its UK pig herd.
Murrells' appointment follows that of ex-Moy Park commercial director Seamus Rooney, who joined Tulip as innovations director a month ago.
Danish Crown has a turnover of 6bn.