REPRESENTATIVES of a Coleford-based drinks maker presented key research about the effects of climate change on fruit farming to politicians at the Houses of Parliament recently.
Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I, which makes drinks including Ribena and Lucozade at its factory in Coleford, has conducted the first-ever survey of blackcurrant farmers around the UK, and have uncovered the climate concerns facing the farmers of the iconic British crop.
The results were unveiled in the Houses of Parliament on June 27.
Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper was in attendance at the event, which brought together growers and policymakers to discuss the topics most affecting the farming industry.
He was joined by Newent-based Ribena blackcurrant grower Edward Keene (pictured).
The research is the first of its kind, aiming to start a constructive conversation between blackcurrant growers and policy makers/influencers about how to support the industry.
Key findings show that 83 per cent of blackcurrant growers believe climate change is already impacting their harvests due to extreme weather events, and 74 per cent said that weather is the main concern ahead of their 2023 harvest.
The research did throw up some areas where the farmers could be better supported by the governent to tackle climate issues and make themselves more sustainable.
Only one in ten said they have received support from the Government to help navigate issues arising from climate change, and less than half said they will be applying for sustainable farming incentives currently offered by the government.
This is because they either believe they’re too small to make participation worthwhile, or that they’re already doing “a significant amount” to protect wildlife and biodiversity.
Mr Harper posted on social media following the event: “Suntory Beverage & Food is one of the leading soft drinks businesses in the UK and their factory in Coleford, home to Ribena, has sustained many skilled jobs in the Forest of Dean since 1947.
“I was delighted to host Suntory at a recent reception in Parliament, along with blackcurrant growers from across the country and the MPs who represent constituencies that are home to significant blackcurrant farms.
“Through increased investment and the implementation of Biodiversity Action Plans, Suntory has undertaken significant efforts to improve the sustainability and quality of blackcurrant crops, in collaboration with local growers.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Suntory and doing what I can to support this important local employer.”