Ribena (/raɪˈbiːnə/ rye-BEE-nə) is an English-origin brand of
blackcurrant-based uncarbonated and carbonated soft drink and fruit
drink concentrate that until 2013 was produced by GlaxoSmithKline
The brand originally had a strong reputation as a healthy product for
children, stemming from its distribution to children as a vitamin C
World War II
World War II by the British government. Beecham (a
company that has been part of GSK since 2000) bought the brand in 1955
and developed many soft drink versions. A series of scandals in the
2000s, concerning vitamin C levels, sugar levels, and the amounts of
actual fruit in some of the brands, damaged its reputation as a
healthy product. By 2013 the brand was widely seen as being similar to
other soft drinks.
In 2013 annual worldwide sales were around £500 million. That year,
Ribena and another consumer line, Lucozade, to the Japanese
Suntory for £1.35 billion.
There is now an outcry as
Ribena have changed their longstanding
recipe to include artificial sweeteners and thickeners due to the
1.1 Second World War
2 See also
4 External links
Ribena was originally manufactured by the Bristol-based food and drink
company HW Carter as a blackcurrant squash.:132–133 Development
research into pure fruit syrups for the manufacture of milkshakes had
been done at the Long Ashton Agriculture and Horticulture Research
North Somerset using a pectinase enzyme process;
essentially invented there by Vernon Charley, a scientist at the
University of Bristol in 1933. The blackcurrant variety was
found to contain high levels of vitamin C. The drink was launched in
1938 under the name
Ribena (from the botanical name for the
blackcurrant, Ribes nigrum).
Second World War
During the Second World War, other fruits rich in vitamin C, like
oranges, became almost impossible to obtain in the United Kingdom, due
U boat campaign.
Blackcurrant cultivation was encouraged by the
Government, and the yield of the nation's crop increased
significantly. From 1942, almost the entire British blackcurrant crop
was made into blackcurrant syrup (or cordial), almost all of it
manufactured by Carters, and distributed to the nation's children for
free without the
Ribena brand name, giving rise to the lasting
popularity of blackcurrant flavourings in Britain.
Production moved to the new Royal Forest Factory at Coleford in the
Forest of Dean
Forest of Dean in the autumn of 1947, where production takes place
Carters was bought out by the
Beecham Group in 1955. In 1989, The
Beecham Group and SmithKline Beckman merged to form SmithKline
Beecham, and in 2000, SmithKline Beecham and GlaxoWellcome merged
Through the years GSK and its predecessors developed many soft drink
Ribena but it retained an image as an "iconic 'healthy
food'" in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.
In 2001, a formulation of the diluted
Ribena cordial, sold as Ribena
Toothkind (and endorsed by the
British Dental Association
British Dental Association as being
less damaging to teeth than other soft drinks), was judged by the
United Kingdom Advertising Standards Authority to have been advertised
in a misleading manner, and claims that the drink did not encourage
tooth decay should be removed from the packaging. The opinion was
upheld by a hearing in the High Court. In 2003, The Food Commission
United Kingdom criticised the sugar levels in regular
contributing to childhood obesity.
In 2004, two high school students in New Zealand, conducted a science
experiment to determine the vitamin C levels of their favourite fruit
drinks. They discovered that the "Ready to Drink Ribena" product they
tested had undetectable levels of vitamin C, counter to the brand's
reputation and to advertisements which said that "the blackcurrants in
Ribena contain four times the vitamin C of oranges". They contacted
GSK, which did not speak with them, and their story was picked up by
the television consumer affairs show Fair Go, which broadcast the
story nationwide in October 2004. Following further testing, in
March 2007, the
Commerce Commission brought 15 charges in
the Auckland District Court against
GlaxoSmithKline under the Fair
Trading Act. In March 2007, GSK pleaded guilty to all 15 charges
and was fined NZ$217,500 by Auckland District Court for misleading
consumers, and were ordered to run a series of corrective
advertisements and place a statement on its website. GSK
maintained the issue only affects Australia and New Zealand, and
Ribena sold in other markets, such as the United Kingdom, contain the
levels of vitamin C stated on the product label.
Carton design introduced in January 2007
In 2007, a study conducted by the Australian Consumers' Association
Choice magazine in January 2007 revealed blackcurrant juice (from
concentrate) only constituted 5% of the
Ribena Fruit Drink
By 2013, the brand had annual worldwide sales of about
£500 million, and was considered to be similar to other soft
drinks. and GSK put Ribena, along with Lucozade, up for sale.
The eventual sale, announced in September, was for £1.35 billion.
Tango – similarly bought by Beecham in 1950s but sold in 1986.
^ a b c d "We have Frank and Vernon to thank for Ribena". The Bristol
Post. 17 September 2013. .
^ Philip R. Ashurst (2013). Production and Packaging of Non-Carbonated
Fruit Juices and Fruit Beverages. Springer Science & Business
Media. ISBN 9781475762969. .
Bristol Scientist creates Ribena". Bristol: University of Bristol.
27 March 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
^ "Brand Profile: Ribena". Archived from the original on 29 April
2014. Retrieved 5 July 2011.
^ "Old Photos of Coleford and district — H W Carter".
Sungreen.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
^ "Profile: SmithKline Beecham". BBC. 18 December 2000.
^ "The Glaxo SmithKline merger". BBC News. 17 January 2000.
^ a b c Tony Jaques (2008). "Pre-publication draft: When an Icon
Stumbles – The
Ribena Issue Mismanaged" (PDF). Corporate
Communications: An International Journal. 13 (4): pp
394–406. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) .
^ "Court rules against Ribena". BBC News. 2001-01-17. Retrieved
Soft drinks or liquid candy?". The Food Commission. 29 January
2004. Archived from the original on 3 March 2007.
^ "Schoolgirls study nabs food giant". The
New Zealand Herald. March
Ribena maker fined $192,000". The Age. March 2007.
^ Vasagar, Jeevan (27 March 2007). "Schoolgirls rumble
claims". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
^ "Foods that make kids fatter faster". Choice magazine. January 2007.
Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. CS1 maint: Unfit
^ Rupert Neate (24 April 2013). "
Ribena up for sale". The
^ Angela Monaghan (9 September 2013). "
Lucozade sold to
Japanese drinks giant". The Guardian. .
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