Industry pays tribute to UK confectionery pioneer John Whitaker

The late John Whitaker (left), with his son William, now the managing director of Whitakers Chocolates, at ISM in 2019

Tributes have been paid to UK confectionery pioneer John Whitaker, senior family member of the Whitakers Chocolates brand, who has died aged 85, reports Neill Barston.

As the chairman of the Yorkshire-based business, he had until relatively recently continued to play an active interest in the company, which is continuing to expand both its British and export interests.

In a previous feature for Confectionery Production, present managing director of the firm, William Whitaker, noted his father’s continued presence, explaining that it had been his influence that had originally led the business to focus on chocolate, with the brand continuing its well established production methods from its headquarters in Skipton.

The company, which has more than 130 years of manufacturing history in the UK, employs over 150 people, producing 10 million chocolates for a global customer base on a weekly basis.

A number of industry tributes were paid to John (pictured below and main image with his son William), on the company’s Linkedin page, including from Andrew Fellowes, sales director at F.D.Copeland & Sons ingredients and flavours. He said: “A true gentleman, very dry sense of humour and someone I had a lot of respect for. I will miss him and so will so many others. My heart goes out to the family at this sad time – rest in peace John.”

The family issued a statement on John’s passing. It read: “It’s a sad day for all at Whitakers Chocolates as we say a fond farewell to our Chairman, John Whitaker.

“John who passed away aged 85 after a short illness was a remarkable man, a great character and inspiration to all. He was respected, loyal, admired and a true legend. He will be missed by everyone.

“John was also a titan and pioneer of the industry, shaping and moulding the business into what is it today. He was driven and motivated and fully embraced new processes and trends.

“John’s business achievements were considerable, over the 65 years of this career, he took a local family confectionery / bakery and with the assistance from his brothers Peter and Fred, developed it into an unequalled specialist chocolate manufacturer. He loved work and he never forgot those who helped in his passion.”


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