Fruit and vegetables - diversified, exotic and fresh!


The founding years – a bitter start?

The first step

And so the unique INTER success story began. In Hamburg, in autumn 1910. On 8th October, five established fruit merchants sat down together in order to realise their vision.

These men had one thing in common: they possessed expert knowledge, a real flair for business, and were willing to take risks – perseverance was probably part of the mix, too. They drew up an ambitious plan. At the end of their meeting they signed articles of association relating to the founding of a joint firm. This was the hour of birth of a company which was entered into the trade register just six days later: “Internationale Frucht-Import- Gesellschaft m.b.H.”

The first roof over its head …

“Stadtdeich 27” – this was the address of the company’s headquarters. Not a remarkable building architectonically, but the first home of INTER, its nucleus. Incidentally, the building is still there today…

Business was muted at first. Profits were not (yet being) made – competition was tough. Yet the gentlemen were unwavering in their line of work, the trading of international fresh fruit. What they had to offer was not domestic, but exotic produce. Tropical fruits such as lemons and grapes from
Spain or Italy, tomatoes from the Canaries and, later on, bananas.

The Fruchthof – the new nerve centre of fruit trading

Fruit trading and market dealings had now been moved to Klostertor, the location, from 1911, of a new central market. Hamburg’s construction director, Fritz Schumacher, designed roomy indoor market premises: the Deichtorhallen. 1911 saw the opening of the Fruchthof: an imposing building, its spaces and corridors infused with the Hanseatic entrepreneurial spirit. Numerous fruit dealers made the Fruchthof their home, as this was where one could be close to market events.

Internationally operated fruit trading had already been in existence in Hamburg for years – and not only with neighbouring states, either. Trade links were also forged with North America and Australia – but fruit import from there had yet to reach significant levels, particularly as it was laden with risks; fruit had a long way to come. Everything had to run smoothly – as rotten fruit was not wanted in Hamburg …

An unwelcome hiatus

Just as successes were beginning to be notched up at INTER, the First World War broke out – and German foreign trade broke down. International trade relations, import, export – these were to be foreign concepts for Hamburg-based businessmen in the years to come. The young fruit trading company also met with hard times. Indeed, one of the log books records laconically: “No business being done at the moment …”. Was this already the beginning of the end?