Dundee centre stage in blackcurrant world

14th May 2012

Dundee’s position at the heart of the world blackcurrant industry will be cemented this week when the biggest ever blackcurrant conference is held in the city.

The choice of Dundee as the venue for the International Blackcurrant Conference is particularly apt since more than 95% of the British blackcurrant crop and 50% of the global crop are varieties bred at the James Hutton Institute in Dundee.

Over 175 delegates from 22 different countries will converge on the city to hear the very latest industry and research developments. The conference is being hosted by the International Blackcurrant Association and the James Hutton Institute in association with GlaxoSmithKline and Mylnefield Research Services Ltd.

The James Hutton Institute, and its predecessor SCRI (Scottish Crop Research Institute), have had blackcurrant breeding programmes since the 1960s. All the varieties bred at the Institute are prefixed ‘Ben’ and there are currently 12 of them in commercial production.

Dr Rex Brennan, who leads the blackcurrant breeding programme, said the conference was a great opportunity to promote the industry and he was looking forward to welcoming delegates from around the world.

“I’m absolutely delighted about this conference bringing together so many people,” he said. “It is a very exciting time to be involved in blackcurrant breeding. 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.”

At Dundee the James Hutton Institute and Mylnefield Research Services, its commercial subsidiary, currently run two blackcurrant breeding programmes; one for the fresh market and another in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline for use in Ribena. Mylnefield Research Services is also investing in training the next generation of plant breeders including for blackcurrants.

Over the three days of the conference delegates will visit a local blackcurrant farm, the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie and Mackays jam factory in Arbroath. A social programme including a conference dinner at Fingask Castle, a ceilidh and a whisky distillery visit is also included.

The conference will be held at the Apex City Quay Hotel from 16-18 May. Delegates will be welcomed to the city at a civic reception in Dundee City Chambers on Tuesday 15 May.

Back to List »
Share |