Posted by Admin Portishead on Aug 2, 2017
By Heather Pickstock
The source of a pungent stink of cannabis hanging over North Somerset has been traced - to a plant which makes non-alcoholic cordial.
The waft in the clouds above the district, which smells distinctively like the Class B drug, is the result of the process of concentrating blackcurrants for Ribena at Sandford’s world famous Thatcher’s factory.
Around 12,000 tonnes of blackcurrants are collected from 35 growers across the UK to be processed at the plant at Myrtle Farm – home to the revered cider makers.
The berries are mashed and the juice pasteurised at the plant before the juice is turned into a concentrate to be used at Ribena’s main mixing factory in Coleford, Gloucestershire.
As the juice is evaporated into a concentrate, it lets off a vapour, which the staff at Thatchers also capture and turn into a liquid aroma which is also used in the Ribena making process.
It is believed that the process of evaporation is what caused the smell.
A spokesman for Ribena, Lucozade and Suntory said: “This is part of the juice making process which is entirely natural.”
The blackcurrant harvest and processing normally takes place during July and early August.
It is believed that the weather conditions may have caused the smell to waft across North Somerset.
The concentrate is taken to the Coleford factory where it is stored in cold stores for use throughout the year.
People had taken to social media to complain of the stink hanging over Nailsea.
And it seems that the smell had also spread to neighbouring towns including Clevedon and Portishead – and along the A370.
The smell was so strong, people have been complaining of it filtering into their homes and businesses.
Some residents were speculating police had found a large cannabis factory in the area, before officers confirmed the smell was down to the ‘annual blackcurrant harvest’ and people did not need to be concerned
Some people had also speculated on social media that the pong was actually some sort of pungent fertiliser being sprayed on local fields by farmers.
A spokesman for Thatchers said: “ We’ve been pressing blackcurrants in our mill here at Myrtle Farm for many years.
"The fruit comes to us from as far afield as Scotland during the July harvest season.
“The aroma of these little black berries is quite distinctive so on occasions we do have people asking what it is – including the police – although I have to say we are all quite used to it on the farm.
“The harvest is coming to an end very shortly, we then start to welcome apples into the mill at the end of August.
“Please don’t be alarmed, everything is quite normal!”
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