Growing

As a long established and well-loved British brand, Ribena has been enjoyed by families for over 70 years. From the beginning, we have been passionate about the berries in Ribena products. Today, the blackcurrants that go into our squash are grown in the beautiful British countryside by trusted growers and are bottled at the Ribena factory in Coleford, in the heart of the Forest of Dean.

Ribena Tales

The History of Ribena

From bush to bottle

Lifecycle of a Ribena blackcurrant bush

The berry bushes that grow the blackcurrants for Ribena go through many different stages throughout their lives; from being first planted and looked after in nursery, to being harvested each year, through to stopping producing berries around the age of 12.

Flowers with berries

Have a read about their life on a Ribena blackcurrant farm:

  • 1. A strong twig between 7cm and 9cm is cut from a blackcurrant bush which is protected from plant pests and disease in a special nursery, and planted between October and March.
  • 2. Year 1 - the cutting produces some small shoots. At the end of the first season, the small shoots are cut off
  • 3. Year 2 - the plant grows lots of strong shoots
  • 4. Year 3 - the shoots produced last year bear fruit for the first time and the bush grows more branches that will bear fruit the following year.
  • 5. Between the age of four and eight years, the bush grows its biggest yield. Per acre of bushes, between three to five tons of blackcurrants are harvested each year! An average bush can keep producing blackcurrants for 12 years.
  • 6. From its leaves falling in October and until March, the blackcurrant bush remains dormant.
  • 7. As the buds start to grow in the spring, frost protection measures make sure the buds are not damaged by the frost.
  • 8. Each April/May, the bushes flower. After the flowers are fertilised by insects, green berries form, which turn black over three weeks. These are then harvested between July and August.
  • 9. Throughout its life, a bush is looked after by being pruned, fed and kept healthy before being carefully harvested.
  • 10. As older blackcurrant bushes stop producing berries, new bushes are planted and the process starts again.

You can find out more about the journey Ribena berries go on, from bush to bottle, over on the Ribena YouTube channel.

Ribena berries across Britain

Ever wondered where the tasty blackcurrants that go into Ribena squash are grown?

A handful of British blackcurrant growers produce the Ribena berries that go into our squash, at berry farms up and down the country.

You can see which counties juicy Ribena berries are grown in on the map below.

Berries
Ribena berry map

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Now why not find out more about the juicy blackcurrants that go into Ribena squash!

Getting to know the British blackcurrants in Ribena squash

Everyone knows that Ribena Blackcurrant squash is made from delicious blackcurrants, but did you know that Ribena comes from the Latin name for blackcurrants, Ribes nigrum?

There are around 150 types of blackcurrant and most of the world's cultivated blackcurrants are named after Scottish mountains, such as Ben More and Ben Hope. Special varieties that are grown by British Ribena blackcurrant growers are called Ben Starav, Ben Gairn and Ben Tirran, to name just a few.

Berries in hands

In partnership with the Scottish Research Crop Institute (SCRI), two new varieties of blackcurrant have been specially bred to withstand the effects of climate change. These are called Ben Vane and Ben Klibreck and were harvested for the first time in 2007.

All of our blackcurrant varieties ripen between the first week of July and mid August when the harvest occurs, meaning that we've just come to the end of this year's harvest and we can start preparing for next year's crop.

The growers' story

When drinking a glass of Ribena squash, have you ever wondered who grows the British blackcurrants that go into your bottle?

Well, we want to let you know a little more about the friendly growers who help make Ribena drinks so juicy.

Man Talking

The farms are run by a handful of British growers who are really passionate about blackcurrants. We've been working with many of the growers' families for generations and much of their expertise has been passed down to them from their parents and grandparents - it really is a family business.

Lots of berries

New blackcurrant bushes are planted each year, but it takes about three years for the bushes to start growing berries and up to eight years before the blackcurrant bushes are at their peak for harvesting - so a lot of care and patience is needed.

And it doesn't take long for the blackcurrants to be made into juice - most of them are squashed within 24 hours of picking; that's pretty fast work!

Growing up: the life and times of a Ribena blackcurrant

Blackcurrants from specially selected species are grown by our loyal team, a handful of British growers, to go into Ribena squash. We've been working with some of our growers for over three generations and 60 years to maintain the high quality of our blackcurrant crops.

Only the best varieties make it

Blackcurrants have been grown in the UK for over 500 years and there are now around 150 different species of this little fruit across the world. However, we only use around ten varieties to make Ribena.

And, because these delicious varieties are totally unique to Ribena, you won't find a taste quite like it anywhere else.

Protecting our favourite fruits

We want to make sure our little blackcurrants grow into strong, juicy berries fit for Ribena squash, so we look after them carefully.

In order to ensure our crops grow into healthy berries, we plant the cuttings between October and March. We then spray the buds with water from mid March onwards, to form an icy blanket which actually guards the buds from frost by keeping them protected on the inside.

We don't try to eliminate all pests from the crop, as low levels of pests can attract natural predators that help to keep the pest population under control. It's a fine balancing act that our growers are skilled at.

We also give our berries plenty to drink, providing them with lots of water in the critical stages of early development to produce delicious, plump blackcurrants ready to be made into Ribena squash.

We hope you enjoy the results!

Berries in tree
Let's do it! Grow it!

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