This week marks the start of the annual Ribena blackcurrant harvest, with growers from around the country cropping nearly 10,000 tonnes of the fruit from their fields. It is only the second year that the new varieties have been in play; and the plants have had to cope with their most challenging conditions yet.
But Ribena manufacturer Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland says that the new varieties have been unaffected by this year’s unseasonal weather patterns.
Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I has created a 20 year partnership with the world’s leading plant research centre, the James Hutton Institute. Funded by a £10m investment, the partnership is looking at the long term effects of climate change and developing crops that are able to withstand the uncertain weather conditions the UK is beginning to see.
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, added: “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.”