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Ex-FPJ editor David Shapley dies, aged 77

One of the most prominent fresh produce journalists of the last 50 years passes away after a short illness

Ex-FPJ editor David Shapley dies, aged 77

David Shapley




    Editor, Fresh Produce Journal
    23rd October 2016 18:51

    I first met David Shapley 12 years ago when I was just starting out my career as a fresh produce journalist at the Grower magazine, back when it was a standalone publication owned by Nexus Media. David was a regular contributor and was always on hand to offer me advice and support as I got to know the industry.

    Our paths continued to cross as my career took me via Commercial Grower magazine onto The Grocer, where David had previously forged a path in making the fresh food desk as important as it is today.

    When I joined FPJ as editor six years ago, David was an invaluable source of help and advice. He would often begin our chats with 'As one editor to another...' before offering wisdom from his decades in the trade. He was never anything other than wholeheartedly supportive as FPJ went through a time of change as a result of the onset of the digital age, and he always understood the need to evolve and stay at the forefront of the business. His good humour and calm understanding of every situation were always extremely well received.

    David's knowledge of the industry is unsurpassed and will be greatly missed, and no doubt his many friends in the trade will be deeply moved by news of his passing. But David led a good, long life, and he will long be remembered by many for both professional and personal reasons.

    On behalf of everyone at FPJ and Eurofruit, where he spent such a large part of his career, I'd like to pass on our condolences to his family and friends, and my personal thanks for all that he has contributed over the years.

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David Shapley has died after a short illness. He would have been 78 on 5 November.

Born in Walton-on-Thames in 1938, Shapley was schooled at King’s Wimbledon before a two-year stint in National Service. He joined the East Surrey Regiment, which later became the Royal Fusiliers, and his service took him from Dover, via a spell at the Tower of London, to Mombasa during the Mau Mau Uprising, and tours of the Middle East with the Trucial Oman Scouts, and Malta.

He was extremely proud of his time with the British Army and particularly of his own regiment and it was a time that helped to shape him as a man and a father.

Soon after leaving the Army, Shapley joined his father Bill Stanford at The Fruit Trades Journal and embarked on a career that saw him become one of the central characters in the British fruit and vegetable industry for more than 50 years. He spent almost 30 of those years at Lockwood Press (publisher of the then FTJ, which is now known as FPJ), and rose from junior journalist to managing editor of the company’s titles.

Shapley travelled the world in the interest of informing the British industry. He was for many years the voice of the British trade, leading the FTJ through what many would see as its halcyon days in the 1970s and 1980s. There would have been very few in the industry who were unaware of Shapley, or of his unrivalled knowledge and expertise as a journalist in the trade. Instrumental in the launch of Eurofruit in the 1980s, Shapley also sat on several industry boards and representative bodies, including the PPMA and FFVIB. He was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers. His work was further recognised by national government in both Spain and France with prestigious awards.

Shapley left Lockwood Press in the late 1980s and joined The Grocer. For around a dozen years, he transformed the fresh produce section of the country’s leading retail-focused grocery title and connected the fruit and vegetable trade with a magazine that was becoming more important as the supermarket retailers expanded their presence and changed the face of the industry.

On his departure from the coalface at The Grocer, Shapley became a freelance consultant journalist and as well as representing several high-profile clients, also continued to write prolifically for publications including FPJ, The Grocer, International Fruit World, Eurofruit, and several British grower-facing titles. He was a consultant to The London Produce Show and Conference, where he provided guidance and also hosted a retail tour and his last published piece was written for a UK Retail Guide that was distributed at LPS in June. 

Shapley was as prolific with his out-of-hours projects as he was at work, where his pursuits included painting children’s pictures, brass rubbing, and using those artistic skills as a set designer and stage manager, as well as amateur dramatics performer. His love of art and the military combined in a passion for painting military figures.

His many friends will confirm that Shapley was also famed for his love of entertaining, and an excellent chef specialising in grouse pies and trout en croute, with the fish caught by himself during one of his regular fishing trips. His fishing career began quite late in his life, but like everything else, he took it seriously, with trips to Canada and Africa alongside his local sessions. 

Shapley was a family man above all else. He met his wife Rosemary at a Young Conservative Conference and they enjoyed 53 years of marriage, bringing up two sons, Mark and Giles, who in turn have brought David and Rosemary four cherished grandchildren.

Details of David Shapley’s funeral will be made available in the next few days. If anyone would like to make contact with the family, please contact Giles on

Comment: An old-school journalist who will be missed

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