THE Wilkin isn’t a fruit, although maybe it ought to be. Although inedible, it is the core ingredient in the world’s most famous range of preserved fruit products.

The unchanging Wilkin jar, with its silver lid and label and the family name etched in classical copperplate font, is as instantly recognisable as a brand name gets.

On the basis of less is more, it settles for plain black and white, allowing the fruit inside the jar to provide the colour.

There are no pictures of fruit on Wilkin jars. The Wilkin name is all the logo that is needed.

Wilkin’s inimitable jams and marmalades sit on the breakfast table at Buckingham Palace, and on the sideboards of every single five-star hotel in Britain.

They dominate the jam sections in Harrod’s food hall. They nestle inside countless food hampers from Fortnum & Mason and other posh suppliers.

They are a favourite diplomatic present from the Queen and the Prime Minister to other heads of state and heads of government.

Yet they are also the people’s jam, taking up a high proportion of shelf space in the preserve sections of all the major supermarkets.

Wilkin is almost synonymous with the small town of Tiptree in central Essex.

Town and business have grown together. In 1897, when Wilkin began bottling jams under its own name, Tiptree’s population was 1,000. Today it is 10,000, almost entirely thanks to jam.

The fruit farms and factory between them employ about 300 people.

One thousand acres of the surrounding Essex fields are wholly devoted to growing fruit for the factory.

Rural English tradition may be central to Wilkin’s image, but this has never been a company that rested on its laurels.

It has just been named by The Grocer magazine as one of the 50 fastest-growing British food companies, and it constantly introduces new products.

In recent years it has also developed its tourist arm. Visitor numbers to the museum, shop and tea-rooms over the past 12 years have approached one million.

As present chairman Peter Wilkin, representing the fourth generation of jam-making at Wilkins puts it: “Innovation is also a Wilkin tradition.”

At present, the company is expanding its range of honeys. There are 17 varieties, including a distinctive brand labelled “Essex Honey”, and a drizzling honey, English Borage, designed to lace yogurt, ice-cream and dessert.

In keeping with the mindset of founder Arthur Wilkin, the company continues to think and plan far ahead.

Typical of this approach is the mulberry plantation, Britain’s largest.

Wilkin has just planted a cluster of new mulberry trees. Most modern fruit farmers expect new trees to crop within two years of planting, otherwise they are considered uneconomical.

By contrast, Wilkin will have to wait until 2030 before these new mulberries come to fruit for the first time.

For now, these newcomers are settling in beside 130-year-old veteran mulberry trees, which were there when Wilkin began operation 127 years ago.

Fruit from the past, fruit for the future – the perfect Wilkin mission statement.