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Boston Fruit Company

Boston Fruit Company

Boston Fruit Company, a banana import firm in the United States. In 1885, when twelve New Englanders under the leadership of Captain Lorenzo D. Baker and Andrew W. Preston invested $15,000 to establish the Boston Fruit Company, the enterprise joined at least sixty other banana companies founded late in the nineteenth century to transport bananas from Central America and the West Indies to the United States. By 1890, when the company was incorporated in Massachusetts, Boston Fruit had become the most successful banana company in the United States. The initial investment had grown to $531,000. There were several reasons for the company's success in transporting and marketing one of the world's most perishable fruits. Replacing sailing vessels with steamships, the company soon purchased two of the fastest cargo ships operating in the Caribbean. Because Boston Fruit established extensive banana plantations in Jamaica, the company was assured a steady supply of the golden fruit—upward of 250,000 stems a year by 1892. In order to expand the distribution and sales of its bananas, Boston Fruit formed the Fruit Dispatch Company, which allowed it to reach U.S. inland markets. In 1899 Boston Fruit merged with Minor C. Keith's three banana companies, with extensive holdings in Costa Rica, Panama, and Colombia, to form the United Fruit Company.

See alsoBanana Industry; Fruit Industry.


Charles M. Wilson, Empire in Green and Gold: The Story of the American Banana Trade (1947), pp. 69-97.

Stacy May and Galo Plaza, The United Fruit Company in Latin America (1958), pp. 5-7.

Wilson Randolph Bartlett, Jr., "Lorenzo Dow Baker and the Development of the Banana Trade Between Jamaica and the United States, 1881–1890" (Ph.D. diss., American University, 1977).

Additional Bibliography

Bucheli, Marcelo. Bananas and Business: The United Fruit Company in Colombia, 1899–2000. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

Clegg, Peter. The Caribbean Banana Trade: From Colonialism to Globalization. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.

Striffler, Steve, and Mark Moberg. Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003.

                                              Diane Stanley

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