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Gloucestershire Business News

Gloucestershire based Ribena harvests new strain

This week marks the start of the annual Ribena blackcurrant harvest at farms across Gloucestershire. The unusually wet weather has not affected the crop because the company is using new varieties of climate-resilient blackcurrants.

As well as the blackcurrants being harvested at farms in Gloucestershire, the county is also home to the Ribena factory, which is based in Coleford.

It's only the second harvest of these climate-resilient berries, so this year's challenging weather has really put them to test. Farmers report they have grown well in both the extremely hot and wet weather.

The Ribena Blackcurrant harvest involves growers from across the UK cropping nearly 10,000 tonnes of the fruit from their fields.

The new berries have been developed by parent company Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I - the UK manufacturers of Ribena.

Producing 90 per cent of Britain's blackcurrant crop, the soft drinks company has supported the development of new breeds of blackcurrants at the world's leading plant research centre, the James Hutton Institute (JHI) in Scotland.

The 20-year partnership - funded by a £10m investment - has looked at the development of crops that are able to withstand uncertain weather conditions.

Harriet Prosser, Agronomist at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, said: "Farming can be a challenging occupation, and lack of climate certainty and extreme weather events are making it even harder.

"The Ribena blackcurrant breeding programme has produced some fantastic new varieties, which are allowing our growers to buck the trend and produce excellent quality fruit despite the weather. These new climate-resilient varieties will ensure our customers can enjoy our great tasting Ribena for many years to come."

Nick Overy, a grower from Paddock Wood in Kent, who grows blackcurrants for Ribena, said: "The unpredictable weather we've been experiencing has made a tough year for farmers even more challenging. Thankfully, the blackcurrant breeding programme helps to mitigate the worst impacts of the weather and ensures the future of our berries is more sustainable. Despite a late harvest, I'm confident that our yield will be as big as ever."

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