Fresca's head of procurement for bananas and pineapples, Elliot Mantle, has died at the age of 45 following a battle with cancer.
The company confirmed Mantle's death in a statement that described his "strong and dignified" battle with the illness. "He faced every challenge with the courage and pragmatism for which he was well known," Fresca said. "As was typical of the man, Elliot insisted on remaining fully involved with our banana business throughout his illness."
Mantle spent most of his working life with the Fresca business. He joined Mack when he left school in 1989 as a trainee quality controller, and quickly showed his ability to become a commercial director with responsibility for the firm's banana and pineapple business.
Known to be articulate and dedicated to his job, Mantle built relationships with suppliers and customers and helped Mack grow its business significantly. "Always available and always so passionate about everything he did, he was a very popular figure with a very wide network of friends," the statement said.
Fresca chairman Chris Mack, who knew Mantle for almost three decades, added: “Elliot was incredibly proud of being the first importer of Fairtrade bananas in the UK, and I believe the energy and commitment he has shown to the Fairtrade side of our business has left a deep and lasting legacy in communities at source.
"He will be missed by our colleagues not only at Paddock Wood and throughout Fresca, but by his many friends and suppliers in the industry around the world. Our thoughts are with Elliot’s family at this sad time.”