FRUCOM (FRUits, COnserves / cans, Miel / honey) was established as a European trade association on 30 April 1960 in The Hague, Netherlands, by five organisations:
- Nederlandsche Vereeniging voor den Handel in gedroogde Zuidvruchten, Specerijen en Aanverwante Artikelen (Nederlandse Zuidvruchten Vereeniging / NZV) - Amsterdam/Rotterdam, Netherlands,
- Verein zur Förderung des hamburgischen Handels mit Kolonialwaren und getrockneten Früchten (Waren-Verein der Hamburger Börse e. V.) – Hamburg, Germany
- Union Professionnelle Belge des Commerçants en Fruits, et Conserves (BELGAFOOD) - Antwerpen, Belgium,
- Verein der Bremer Importeure von getrockneten Früchten, Gewürzen und Drogen e.V. – Bremen, Germany,
- Fédération Nationale des Importateurs et Exportateurs des Produits Alimentaires - Paris, France
Talks started in October 1959 between the founding member organisations to get the import trade organised at European level in order to represent and defend the common interests of the sector in their dealings with the institutions of the European Economic Community (EEC). At that time, these institutions were newly established by the Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 by six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands). The first General Assembly of FRUCOM was held in Brussels on 24 October 1960, six months after the launch of the association.
Since 1960, FRUCOM has constantly stood for freedom of trade and for the removal of all kinds of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
Other organisations from France and the Netherlands had joined the ranks of FRUCOM in the meantime: Syndicat National des Commerces et Industries des Fruits Secs - Marseille, France; Union Nationale des Importateurs et Exportateurs de l’Alimentation – Paris, France and Nederlandsche Vereeniging voor den Specerijhandel – Amsterdam, Netherlands. The General Assembly elected the first Board of Directors: Mr. Georg Schneider from the Netherlands (President), Mr. H. Uyterhoeven from Belgium (First Vice- President), Mr. O. Bertram from Germany (Second Vice- President) and Mr. J. Fourchtein (France).
For 50 years, FRUCOM has been recognised by the EU as the representative trade organisation for the import of the various food commodities dealt with by its membership.
That same year, FRUCOM was registered with the EEC as the representative European organisation for importers of the various food commodities represented within its member organisations (‘fruits secs, conserves, épices et miel’ / dried fruit, canned foods, spices and honey) and later invited to represent the interests of the import trade in the Advisory Committees for processed fruit & vegetables and for fish.
British organisations BACFID (British Association of Canned and preserved Food Importers & Distributors– since 1997 BFIDA, the British Food Importers & Distributors Association), the NDFTA (National Dried Fruit Trade Association) and NCCFI Liverpool (National Committee of Canned Food Importers) joined FRUCOM in 1972 while the UK was in the process of joining the EEC; CENTA, the UK Combined Edible Nut Trade Association, joined a few years later in 1989.
In 1980, FRUCOM appointed a delegate in Brussels to ensure day-to-day links with officials of the EEC institutions and enable a permanent representation of FRUCOM members’ interests at the heart of the EEC decision-making system. In 1981, the FRUCOM headquarters were re-located from the UK to the Waren- Verein office in Hamburg, along with the presidency of the association for the period 1981-2001. In the course of the 1990s, additional national trade associations joined FRUCOM: ANEIOA – Italy (now FRUIT IMPRESE), and the Danish, Swedish and Finnish Chambers of Commerce. In the 2000s, membership continued to grow to include Spain (ALMENDRAVE), Greece (Greek Nut Association) and Portugal.
In 2001, following the sudden passing of prominent FRUCOM President Mr. Henry-Hartwig Masuhr, the FRUCOM presidency was taken over by Mr. Jack Taillie (NZV) for the period 2001-2005. It is under his presidency that the decision was taken to permanently move the FRUCOM headquarters to Brussels, both to consolidate FRUCOM’s positioning and visibility as a European trade association and to strengthen even more its links and lobbying activities towards European decision-makers, through greater geographical proximity.
FRUCOM is officially established in Brussels since July 2005 and continues to strive, after 50 years of activities, for free trade and protection of European importers’ interests against trade barriers and market disruption, which is also in the interest of European end-consumers.
The FRUCOM general secretariat was re-located within the delegation’s office in Brussels in July 2005. Subsequently, a new set of Articles of Association was adopted to officially incorporate FRUCOM as a non-profit making international association (AISBL) under Belgian law as of March 2008.
1960-1970: Georg Schneider (Netherlands)
1970-1972: Mr. Rothbaerd (Netherlands)
1972-1980: Derek Leigh (UK)
1981-1986: Hans-Joachim Freytag (Germany)
1987-2001: Henry-Hartwig Masuhr (Germany)
2001-2005: Jack Taillie (Netherlands)
Since 2005: Martin Rome (UK)
1981-1982: Sigrid Schnelle
1983-2000: Dr. Klaus Hanebuth
2000-2001: Günther Schelling
2001-2002: Dr. Klaus Hanebuth
2002-2005: Dr. Katrin Langner
2005-2006: Pascale Rouhier
Since 2006: Sylvie Mamias
Delegates in Brussels:
1980-2002 : Hannelore Mill
2002-2005 : Pascale Rouhier
Since the 2000s, FRUCOM has seen its mission, activities and lobbying priorities evolve from dealing mostly with trade matters to focusing on food safety and technical issues, following the increasing number and complex set of food safety rules and controls put in place by the EU, and the resulting increased responsibilities and liabilities borne by food importers in this respect. Hence the growing links in recent years with organisations and companies located in origin countries (Morocco, Turkey, USA) and international organisations such as the INC and SIPA, to ensure greater cooperation and exchange of information on these issues along the chain and with all involved operators.
A changing mission: from trade matters to food safety issues.
A short overview of FRUCOM’s history over the past fifty years – many thanks to Dr. Klaus Hanebuth and Walter Anzer for their invaluable, reliable and detailed memories.
Sylvie Mamias, FRUCOM Secretary General