GlaxosmithKline has invested £1.2m in a programme to keep blackcurrants growing in Britain.
This year, it is trialling two varieties that it hopes will be able to cope with Britain's changing climate. Traditional cultivars are losing ground in counties such as Kent and Somerset, where yields are falling as conditions become hotter and drier. The new cultivars have been bred by the Scottish Crop Research Institute and will be harvested to make Ribena this summer as part of a three-year trial.
"Ninety-five per cent of British blackcurrants go into Ribena," said Michael Dunsire, procurement director for GSK. "In the face of climate change we need to ensure the protection of high-quality blackcurrants that provide the distinctive Ribena taste."
The varieties are Ben Vane, which is suited to milder West Country winters, and Ben Klibreck, which is suited to the east and north. They are named after two Scottish mountains.