In 1938 a British institution was born. 100% British and rich with the wonderful taste of blackcurrants, here’s how we make the nation’s favourite juice drink, Ribena.
Ribena is made from a unique blend of 10 different blackcurrants which are bred with the support of the James Hutton Institute.
We’ve been working with the agricultural research centre to develop new varieties of blackcurrants since 1992, and because we know how important science is to sustainable farming, we’ve invested £2 million over the last 20 years to continue the great work. This includes developing hardy varieties that can withstand climate change.
It takes three years from planting a cutting until a blackcurrant is ready for harvest.
Thankfully, we work with a team of 35 experienced blackcurrant growers who start the planting process as early as January when chilling time is at an optimum – luckily for us blackcurrants love cold winters!
Each year our growers produce around 10,000 tonnes of blackcurrants for Ribena, which is roughly 90% of Britain’s blackcurrant crop.
As such, we rely on our growers to farm sustainably and go to great lengths to protect the environment in which they grow. To do this, our growers work closely with our agronomist (an expert in soil health) to put in place a Biodiversity Action Plan – six steps designed to protect wildlife and provide optimum conditions for fruit production.
The Blackcurrant harvest typically starts in the first week of July and continues until the middle of August.
Our growers use mechanical pickers to harvest the blackcurrants and manually sort through the berries to remove twigs and leaves before the machine divides the crop into crates. Every load is weighed, quality checked and graded before collection.
This is where it gets juicy… Within 24 hours of being picked, the blackcurrants are collected and transported to Thatcher’s in Somerset who process the berries and extract the juice for us.
The berries are tipped into a giant mill to be washed, mashed and pressed. The blackcurrant juice is then filtered, pasteurised and evaporated before it’s sent via tanks to our factory in Coleford, Gloucestershire. During evaporation, we capture the blackcurrant aromas which are stored and put back into the juice at a later stage.
To maintain the concentrate’s rich flavour, we return the blackcurrant aromas that were lost to evaporation during the pressing process.
Our taste experts then regularly sample the liquid throughout the blending process to ensure it’s of the highest quality.
To save on transportation miles, we blow all our Ribena bottles on site which are made from 100% recycled plastic - and have been since 2007.
We make, clean and then test the bottles every 10 minutes using high speed cameras that work 10 times faster than the human eye!
The final drink is ready for distribution to Ribena-lovers throughout the UK as well as millions of people around the globe.