Scottish blackcurrant varieties to remain Ribena’s favourite

Fruit breeders at the James Hutton Institute have announced that Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS), producers of popular fruit drink Ribena, have signed a 5-year blackcurrant breeding contract with James Hutton Limited.

This builds on a successful commercial relationship between Scottish fruit breeders and the makers of the iconic drink for the past 25 years.

Speaking at Fruit for the Future 2015 in Dundee, Dr Rex Brennan, leader of the Institute’s soft fruit breeding group said: “I’m delighted that LRS have trusted us again to breed blackcurrant varieties for their iconic drink. Because of the tools we have at our disposal we can deliver varieties aimed at definite sectors of the industry, that is fresh or processing, while taking into account other factors like environmental change.

“The James Hutton Institute and its predecessors have bred blackcurrants since the 1960s. All the varieties bred at the Institute are prefixed ‘Ben’ and there are currently 12 of them in commercial production.”

As well as field tours, networking opportunities and fruit tasting, the event also hosted seminars by Harriet Roberts from ADAS on novel approaches to weed control in fruit crops, and the James Hutton Institute’s Dr Julie Graham and PhD student Peter Orrell, who talked about how to understand raspberry using \'omics\' technologies and below-ground interactions in soft fruit production, respectively.

The event featured presentations about the advances of the raspberry breeding programme funded by the Scottish Government and soft fruit industry, as well as talks on integrated pest management tools, stress detection and pest identification.

Commercial exhibitors at the event included Agralan, Bulrush Horticulture, Hortech Solutions, Koppert UK, Omex Horticulture, Priva UK and James Hutton Limited.

Fruit for the Future is an annual event hosted by the James Hutton Institute. It is intended for farmers, agronomists, representatives of the food and drink industries, scientists and others interested in soft fruit.

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