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Gloucestershire Business News

How Ribena maker is helping to protect British wildlife

Ribena brand owner, Lucozade Ribena Suntory, which has a factory in Coleford, is helping to safeguard wildlife.

The company has appointed an independent auditor and adviser to strengthen its Environmental Farm Stewardship Scheme, which has helped an estimated 5,000 songbird chicks to hatch.

Originally introduced in 2004, the company's Environmental Farm Stewardship Scheme covers the 38 British farms which grow the blackcurrants used to make Ribena. 

This amounts to 4,000 acres of land across the UK, from Blairgowrie in Scotland to Herefordshire on the Welsh borders and Somerset in South West England. Every year the Ribena growers harvest more than 10,000 tonnes of blackcurrants which account for 90% of the UK's blackcurrant yield.

The scheme has seen other vulnerable species protected, including bumble bees, water vole, yellow hammer and skylark birds. Three Ribena farms have also recorded annual sightings for 12 years of the grey partridge bird - a "Red Listed" endangered species.

Now, Lucozade Ribena Suntory has appointed the national Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) Association to independently audit and advise on the future of the stewardship scheme, ensuring it is as robust as possible.

FWAG will be working in collaboration with Lucozade Ribena Suntory's agronomist to offer tailored consultancy and recommendations to each Ribena blackcurrant grower on how to improve their sustainability actions. This will involve an assessment of key environmental features and habitats on each farm, identification of rare and threatened species and an assessment of the wider farm environment including issues relating to soil and water.

Michelle Norman, director of external affairs and sustainability at Lucozade Ribena Suntory said: "We're passionate about protecting the environment and believe it's our social responsibility to have a positive impact on the world around us. We believe that means using all parts of our supply chain to help improve the environment. Appointing FWAG to independently audit and advise on our Environmental Farm Stewardship scheme is our commitment to doing the right thing by not only the wonderful Ribena blackcurrant growers, but wider society too."

Edward Keene, Ribena blackcurrants grower & Blackcurrant Foundation board member said: "As a third-generation fruit farmer whose family has been growing blackcurrants for Ribena for over 60 years, I am exceptionally proud of our environmental stewardship. Working closely with Lucozade Ribena Suntory we have been able to implement strong schemes that have helped to protect and nurture the environment. The appointment of FWAG is a great step as it will deliver additional expertise and extra support that will help to make a real difference."

Rebecca Mills, farm conservation adviser, FWAG South West added: "It has been a pleasure working with the Ribena blackcurrant growers to take forward the bespoke environmental stewardship scheme into a new phase. The first farm visits have shown the array of good environmental practices already in place and a willingness to try new and innovative ways to boost insect and bird activity on the farms."

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