LONDON: Some of Britain’s meat processors will run out of carbon dioxide (CO2) within five days, forcing them to halt production and impacting supplies to food retailers, the head of the industry’s lobby group warned on Monday.
A jump in gas prices has forced several domestic energy suppliers out of business and has shut fertiliser plants that also make CO2 as a by-product of their production process.
The CO2 gas is used to stun animals before slaughter, in the vacuum packing of food products to extend their shelf life, and to put the fizz into beer, cider and soft drinks. CO2’s solid form is dry ice, which is used in food deliveries.
The CO2 crisis has compounded an acute shortage of truck drivers in the UK, which has been blamed on the impact of COVID-19 and Brexit.
“My members are saying anything between five, 10 and 15 days supply (remain),” Nick Allen of the British Meat Processors Association told Sky News.
With no CO2 a meat processor cannot operate, he said.
“The animals have to stay on the farm. They’ll cause farmers on the farm huge animal welfare problems and British pork and British poultry will disappear off the shelves,” Allen said.
“We’re two weeks away from seeing some real impacts on the shelves,” he said, adding that poultry could start disappearing even sooner.