Fyffes plc is an Irish fruit and fresh produce company headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Fyffes is the oldest fruit brand in the world. It is most closely associated with the banana, although the brand is applied to a wide range of fruits including the Fyffes Gold Pineapples and Fyffes melons. Fyffes is primarily involved in the production, procurement, shipping, ripening, distribution and marketing of bananas, pineapples and melons. Fyffes currently markets fruit in Europe and the United States primarily under the Fyffes and Turbana brands.
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In the 1870s Thomas Fyffe, a London food wholesaler, went into partnership with a fruit dealer named Hudson who had connections in the Canary Islands. In 1878 they shipped their first cargo of bananas to England. Within five years the business had become so successful that they purchased land in the Canaries to be cultivated as banana plantations. Meanwhile, Elder Dempster & Company (a large shipping firm which traded in the Canaries) had observed the success of Fyffe & Hudson and followed suit. In 1898 Elder Dempster's fruit importing business was extended to Jamaica, which was then the second oldest of Britain's overseas colonies.
To protect the island's economy the British government agreed to pay a subsidy of £40,000 a year to Elder Dempster to run a regular steamer service to Jamaica and bring large quantities of bananas to the British market. In May 1901 the firms merged and Elders & Fyffes Ltd was established in London. The following year 45% of the capital was purchased by the United Fruit Company of America. Thereafter, the business went from strength to strength using specially constructed ships that ensured the fruit arrived in good condition after the long Atlantic crossing.
In 1960 At Bembridge Airport, Isle of Wight, Britten-Norman Ltd began trials of their new Cushioncraft--their name for an air-cushion vehicle built for Elders and Fyffes. It was used to study the potential of this type of vehicle for the carriage of bananas from plantations in the Southern Cameroons.
In May 1969, the company was renamed Fyffes Group Ltd, recognising the diversity and importance of the then (x-number) subsidiary companies. It became an Irish company following takeover by the Irish group FII plc in 1986--FII having been originally established as Fruit Importers of Ireland Limited in 1968. The combined company was initially known as FII Fyffes plc, but became simply Fyffes plc in 1990.
In 2002 Fyffes took legal action against DCC plc in relation to the sale of its stake in the company, though DCC was eventually cleared of insider trading at that time. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that DCC and Mr Flavin had inside information on Fyffes when it sold its stake in the fruit and vegetable distributor for €106 million in early 2000. This overturned a High Court decision which had gone in DCC's favour. The settlement of the civil claim in 2008 cost DCC around €42 million.
On 15 May 2006, the company spun off its property portfolio to a separate company, Blackrock International Land plc, though it would retain a 40% share. In September 2006, Irish newspapers reported that it was considering spinning off its fresh produce business, leaving Fyffes as purely a banana importer. On 2 January 2007 this occurred, with Total Produce plc listing on the ISE's Irish Enterprise Exchange and the LSE's Alternative Investment Market. Fyffes itself, now just a fruit company, moved from the Official Lists of the ISE and LSE to the IEX and AIM on 10 January 2007.
In September 2008, UNICEF Ireland and Fyffes announced a corporate philanthropy partnership. The five-year partnership funds UNICEF's work in Mozambique combating the spread of malaria amongst orphaned and other vulnerable children.
Fyffes is the oldest fruit brand in the world dating back to 1929. While it is of course most closely associated with the banana, it is also applied to the other produce including Fyffes Gold Pineapples and the winter season melons. It is one of the largest tropical produce importers and distributors in Europe,
Fyffes offer a full range of bananas, from loose to prepacked. The bananas are sourced in the Tropics from countries such as Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Belize, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Honduras. Fyffes carried the first refrigerated commercial shipment of bananas to Britain in 1901 in a purpose-built ship called the SS Port Morant.
Fyffes plc also offers the Fyffes Gold Pineapple: this delicious Supersweet variety is sourced from Central and South America.
The third and final product within the Tropical portfolio is Fyffes melons. The range covers melon types such as Galia, Cantaloup, Charentais, Watermelon, Piel de Sapo and Yellow Honeydew. The melons are sourced from Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica.
The Fyffes Group ripening facility in Coventry is the largest in Europe and is able to accommodate 117,000 boxes (or over 2,100 tonnes) of bananas at any one time.
Fyffes were involved in a rescue 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland at Foynes Port in Co. Limerick. In August 2004, four sailors who were attempting a transatlantic world rowing record were picked up in the stormy waters after their boat was destroyed by huge waves. The Fyffes banana boat was en route from Costa Rica with ¼ million cartons of bananas and was completing the 12 day voyage when they were alerted to the men's plight. The advert ran in 2 main national newspapers in Ireland the following day.
The company formerly operated its own fleet of ships, known as Fyffes Line.
Fyffes handles the entire banana export produce of Belize.