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Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Trade mourns loss of Karl Dürbeck

German importer was instrumental in developing Europe's overseas fruit imports over the past half century

Trade mourns loss of Karl Dürbeck

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Karl Dürbeck, one of the leading and most widely respected members of the international fresh produce business, has died after a serious illness, it has emerged.

Having taken up the reins at family-owned import and wholesale business Martin Dürbeck Fruchthandel in 1954 following the untimely death of his father Anton, Karl led the then Frankfurt-based company and helped transform it into one of Europe’s foremost importers, bringing a broad range of products into the market from across the world.

Following a change of company name to Anton Dürbeck in 1983, the firm embarked on a period of great expansion, with Karl overseeing its diversification into fruit production in Chile (Exportadora Frutasol), the importing of bananas from Ecuador and the establishment of representatives in Bologna (Omnia-Frucht Import), Rotterdam (Gottmann's Handelmaatschappij) and Santiago de Chile.

Described as a sharp mind and an accomplished speaker, Karl took on a number of representative roles as an industry leader during the course of his career, including stints as president of European associations Cimo and Eucofel which saw him emerge in the 1990s as a leading commentator on the thorny issue of Europe’s banana import tariff regime.

Now based in Bad Homborg, just north of Frankfurt, the group has built up an excellent reputation as well as a considerable network of partners across key supply countries in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere.

“For the fruit industry, he has always been far more than just a mere competitor,” commented an editorial in the German industry weekly Fruchthandel Magazin, which described him as “one of the greats” of the international fruit business. “During his active life, Karl Dürbeck was always a thinker and a mastermind, a designer and a master par excellence.”

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