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WHAT WAS... The launch of ULRICH STEIN?

The fact that Ulrich Stein founded the first fruit forwarder in the Port of Hamburg in 1952 demonstrates farsightedness. To have filled this market niche early on is still the reason for the company’s success today.

Each kind of fruit imposes its own unyielding conditions. Should its temperature or humidity requirements during transportation not be met, then the quality sinks. As fruit imports were gathering pace after WWII, variance in quality of the import merchandize was an everyday occurrence. In the Fifties fruit came straight out of the ship’s belly into large auction halls and was sold by the importers to buyers such as wholesalers and agents. In 1952 Ulrich Stein founded his company of the same name. For the first time, this offered all necessary handling and forwarding services between the importer and purchaser for fruit, dried fruit and vegetables. Besides comprehensive quality control, in those days too Customs clearance and preparing the perishable goods for transport into the hinterland on behalf of the buyer were everyday business.

Ulrich Stein’s company quickly acquired specialist knowledge about the transport and import conditions of the individual types of fruit and vegetables. The improved transport environment in turn made longer voyages feasible. In 1986 for the first time Ulrich Stein company inspected and cleared Customs with New Zealand onions that reached Hamburg aboard the “Adelaide Express”.   After the death of Ulrich Stein in 1966, he left his sons with an established firm that in 14 years of business had already opened nine branches Europe-wide. After taking over his father’s business, Kai-Peter Stein disposed of all the company’s shares to Austria-based Schenker Group. Schenker in turn sold Ulrich Stein GmbH in its entirety to Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG in July 2001.

With its newly acquired market leader in fruit forwarding, HHLA strengthened its own fruit handling position at O'Swaldkai and has since offered a complete service range from the quay wall to the customer. Three years later in July 2004, Belgian New Fruit Wharf took a 49% share in both HHLA subsidiaries Frucht- und Kühl-Zentrum and Ulrich Stein. Today, Ulrich Stein GmbH not only processes imports that arrive at HHLA’s fruit terminal. In addition, for fruit arriving at other container terminals in Hamburg, the firm organizes transport to the customers in the wholesale market through sub-contractors.