Fruit and vegetables - diversified, exotic and fresh!


From an economic miracle to the exotic

New faces at INTER

No sooner had INTER found its feet in the fruit trade again than a shock came along: Johannes Voß met with a fatal accident in March 1949. However, competent employees were on hand to continue the business successfully: in March 1950, an experienced fruit merchant joined INTER as its managing director in the shape of Heinrich Weichert. He was followed one year later by his son Dieter, who started his apprenticeship at INTER. The new trading name from January 1952 was Internationale Fruchtimport Gesellschaft Weichert & Co. In addition, a close partnership with J. H. Lütten & Co., likewise based at the Fruchthof, was agreed on. At the start of the 50s, INTER was once again dealing with the import of fresh Spanish and Italian citrus fruits, as well as pip fruits.

INTER gets a foothold

Although the import of bananas in Hamburg was dominated by an import consortium, INTER took the pioneering decision to devote itself to this sector as well. A significant date for INTER was 14th July 1954. On this summer’s day, the first cargo of bananas on behalf of INTER reached Hamburg’s
port. This was just the beginning: in close association with French shipping company CGT, INTER expanded its banana import continuously and transformed it into a secure mainstay for the company.

A change of team …

Weichert Senior retired from the active fruit business in 1965, handing over the management after 15 successful years to the next generation, his son Dieter. The Junior took over the helm during times of upheaval, thus setting himself up for some new challenges in the fruit trade. The auction business was in continuous decline; the partnership with J. H. Lütten was at an end; INTER was now marketing a whole shipload of bananas by itself, every week. The freshness guarantee continued to be the top priority.

… and a new mainstay

The fruit trade experienced far-reaching changes in the 60s. Mergers and partnerships in the producing countries, evolving trade routes, sea ports in competition with Hamburg, entry into major trade chains; on top of this, an excess of traditional fruit varieties. Fruit traders were under pressure; some gave up. INTER, however, discovered a gap in the market: exotics. And Lennart Heuer was its man of the hour. He was to go on to successfully build up a completely new import sector. Fruit names such as curuba, feijoa, guava, kaki, star fruit, kiwano, loquat and granadilla were still completely unknown.

Fruity-fresh dedication – worldwide

It was a logistical challenge for INTER to market not only a shipload of bananas every week, but also the global diversity of fresh exotics. For this reason a transportation company was set up, haulage company Weidner & Co., in which INTER had a holding. INTER received assurance for its worldwide commitment from continuously rising demand for fresh fruit as well as new business relations with foreign producing countries.

A new view on things

Self-service stores: an innovation from America. In contrast to the conventional service business, self-service stores offered customers a crucial
benefit: purchasers were now able to take a look at the goods – such as fresh exotic fruits, for example – for themselves. This new form of presentation was extremely apposite to the sale of exotics. Not even the building of the Berlin Wall, the great storm surge and – during the Cuban Crisis – the threat of a Third World War could stop a swiftly unfolding lust for life. Eating habits were altered by “cuisine légère” and small snacks – such as the typical cheese and fruit sticks. Not only in terms of fruit supply, the “Swingin’ Sixties” came to an exotically colourful end.