MP’s praise for Ribena growers’ biodiversity

By Jake Chown  
Tuesday 29th March 2022 11:00 am

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LOCAL fruit growers were invited to join Forest MP Mark Harper for dinner at the House of Commons this month to celebrate their commitment to protecting the environment.

Farmers from the Forest who grow blackcurrants which make Ribena at the Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I factory in Coleford met with MPs and Ministers at the company’s annual Growers Dinner, which was chaired and hosted by Mr Harper.

The focus of this year’s dinner, which was the first time the growers had met with MPs since before the pandemic, was on celebrating their commitment to biodiversity and sustainability.

Suntory says biodiversity is “at the heart” of what the blackcurrant growers do, and the company has worked closely with them to put in place annual Biodiversity Action Plans which protect local habitats around the 35 Ribena blackcurrant farms in the UK.

Works have included creating wetlands, restoring ponds and planting woodlands, as well as sowing an area bigger than the City of London with pollen and nectar-rich wildflower seed.

The company has also invested £10 million to improve the sustainability and quality of the British blackcurrant crop, including a five-year project to develop new breeds of climate-resilient blackcurrants.

The growers were also joined at the event on Tuesday, March 8 by local MPs and Farming, Fisheries and Food Minister Victoria Prentis.

Mr Harper said: “Suntory’s Coleford factory has been one of the Forest of Dean’s flagship employers since the 1940s and continues to sustain many skilled jobs today. 

“As the Forest’s MP, I am always pleased to champion this brilliant local employer and I was delighted to host an event in Parliament which brought together Suntory, blackcurrant growers from the Forest and around the country with the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food.

“Suntory have been leading the way in their sector in improving their sustainability and protecting our country’s biodiversity as well as continuing to invest in their world-class Coleford factory. 

“I look forward to continuing to do what I can to support this important local employer.”

Local Ribena blackcurrant grower Edward Keene said:“Our local MP has been extremely supportive and clearly recognises the importance of the supply chain for Ribena.

“Growing blackcurrants is a long-term endeavour, requiring significant investment and commitment. We are grateful for the sustainable relationship blackcurrant growers have with Ribena and SBF GB&I enabling both ends of the supply chain to act with confidence.”

Carol Robert, COO of Suntory Beverage and Food GB&I, added: “It was fantastic to reconnect our blackcurrant growers with their local MPs.

“There is a lot of support for Ribena in parliament, including what we’re doing with our growers to improve nature and protect biodiversity.

“We had an excellent discussion and am delighted with our shared desire to work together to achieve sustainable growth.”

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