Edward Wathen Fyffe was born on December 31, 1853 at Woodchester, Gloucestershire, England the second son of Ebenezer Wathen Fyffe, a tea merchant and Martha Wathen Dunn. His elder brother, Ebenezer Thomas Fyffe becam a Naval Chaplain but Edward went into the family Tea business of E.W. Fyffe, Son and Co. In 1884 Edward married Ida Stanton Brown.
Ida caught tuberculosis and Edward took her to the Canary Islands for her convalescence. It was here that Edward Fyffe discovered bananas and decided that England was ripe for the exotic fruit. In 1888 E.W. Fyffe, Son and Co. changed from Tea merchants to Banana Importers when Edward began began commercial imports of bananas.
Ten years later, Fyffe merged with another London-based green grocer supplier, Hudson Brothers, forming Fyffe Hudson & Co. Limited. Fyffe Hudson continued to build up imports of bananas from the current and former British colonial islands. At the turn of the century, the company took a step to solve one of the largest difficulties in transporting bananas, preventing them from ripening during the voyage itself.
A breakthrough in the banana industry came when it was discovered that maintaining bananas below a certain temperature inhibited the ripening process. At the turn of the century, Fyffe Hudson commissioned a ship outfitted with a cooling system developed by J & E Hall, and the company’s first refrigerated vessel, the Port Morant, completed its maiden voyage between Avonmouth, England, and Kingston, Jamaica, in 1901.
That same year, Fyffe Hudson, which had been operating from its eastern England location, merged with the Liverpool-based Elder Dempster and Company, adding that company’s western England port. The merger, which created the company Elders and Fyffes Limited, thus secured operations in England’s two major ports serving shipping between the United Kingdom and its island colonies. The company went public, continuing to add to its fleet of ships and becoming a major importer in the English market. In 1913 Fyffes was acquired by United Brands of the USA.
Edward Wathen Fyffe and Ida Stanton Brown had no sons, just two daughters. Martha Ellen Fyffe (1885) and Gertrude Ida Fyffe(1886). He died in 1935 in his native Gloucestershire.