Ribena farmers in Suffolk and Essex set to raise bar on environmental work

One of Ribena's blackcurrant fields. Picture: NICK MCGOWAN-LOWE

One of Ribena's blackcurrant fields. Picture: NICK MCGOWAN-LOWE - Credit: Nick McGowan-Lowe

Blackcurrant farms producing berries for household drinks brand Ribena, including ones in Suffolk and Essex, are set to take conservation work to the next level.

A Ribena blackcurrant field Picture: RIBENA

A Ribena blackcurrant field Picture: RIBENA - Credit: Archant

A total of 38 farms across Britain grow for Lucozade Ribena Suntory and are under its Environmental Farm Stewardship Scheme. They are now working with the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group Association (FWAG), which has been appointed to independently audit and advise on the future of the scheme, ensuring it is as robust as possible.

Ribena farmers include Giles Coode-Adams, of Coggeshall Hall, Colchester and Andrew Youngman, of Red House Farm, Charsfield, Woodbridge.

MORE - More working farmers seek charity help as financial squeeze takes its tollOriginally introduced in 2004, the company’s stewardship scheme covers 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.

FWAG will be working in collaboration with Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s agronomist to offer support 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.

Ribena sustainability boss Michelle Norman 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.”