Ambition 2025: Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I

17 February 2022

Home to Ribena blackcurrants for more than 80 years, the UK has until now provided the perfect climate for growing the 10,000 tonnes of blackcurrants required to make Ribena annually.


Were it not for the wonders of science, warmer winters could threaten the humble blackcurrant, which requires a prolonged period of ‘winter chill’ in order to produce delicious and juicy berries.

That is why more than twenty years ago, SBF GB&I along with leading agricultural experts at The James Hutton Institute, set out to develop and breed climate-resilient blackcurrants that are fit for future.

SBF GB&I has invested over £10m in its blackcurrant breeding programme so far and in 2020, the business was proud to see its latest research project bear fruit. Named after a Scottish mountain, the new Ben Lawers blackcurrant variety delivers the same great taste but importantly requires significantly less winter chill time that other varieties.

This scientific breakthrough has huge potential impact across the entire food and drink industry, informing how other crops such as blueberries, cherries, apples and plums can withstand the effects of climate change too.

This collaboration is the epitome of SBF GB&I’s Growing for Good vision which ensures that as it grows, so does its ability to benefit its wider community.

“Farming can be a challenging occupation, and lack of climate certainty or 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-resistant varieties will ensure our customers can enjoy our great tasting Ribena for many years to come.”

Harriet Prosser, Agronomist, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I