Worldoffruit.com, a "24-hour secure online trading and the latest industry news and views" on the global fresh fruit and vegetable market, is scaling back operations a year after launching.

The portal, backed by fruit producer Fyffes, is planning to close offices in the UK, France, Holland, Spain and Italy. Plans to expand into South Africa, South America and Asia have been abandoned.

"Expenditure going forward will be significantly below that envisaged in the company's original business plan and staff numbers have been reduced accordingly," Fyffes said in a statement. "It is expected that Worldoffruit.com will continue to operate, but on a significantly reduced scale, and costs in 2001 are not expected to be material in a group context."

Worldoffruit.com, based in Dublin, aimed to make the trade of fruit more efficient and competitive through a centralised marketplace.

The cost cutting exercise underlines the difficulties business-to-business Internet exchanges are encountering. Fyffes spent €15m (£9.6m) on the project and claimed to have 500 registered users in 35 countries.