Food and drink companies, located within the UK, are concerned about possible supply shortages in the future. This is due to the fact that a 3-month carbon dioxide deal signed last October comes to an end.
Carbon dioxide, also known as CO2, has a wide variety of uses across food supply chains all over Britain: from stunning animals before the slaughter process, to the packaging used to prolong the shelf life of food products and also carbonated drinks – subsequently making them fizzy.
High energy prices have made some production sites too expensive to keep open. CF Industries is the UK’s premier fertiliser manufacturer. They produce CO2 as a by-product of their main product – fertiliser. CF Industries have halted work at sites in Billingham, Cheshire, Ince and Teeside due to rises in wholesale gas prices. ‘CF industries, which supplies 60% of the UK’s industrial CO2, said it would ‘’continue to negotiate’’ with its customers to ‘’extend CO2 offtake and pricing agreements’’ said the BBC.
‘Food Supplies in the UK have faced numerous obstacles during the past 2 years, with CO2 shortages acting as the latest headache for food companies and retailers’ says information service Retail Insight. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has said ‘we are concerned with just days now remaining before that agreement comes to an end, and energy prices still very high, there will be further CO2 shortages once again’. They further added ‘this could lead to shortages in the products we find on our supermarket shelves – adding further pressures to families already coping with high food-price inflation.’
Moreover, labour shortages also tie into this issue with numbers ranging from 70,000 to 80,000 of ‘overseas seasonal workers’ not being able to enter the country, limiting productivity. Logistics UK estimates that we are now approximately 90,000 drivers short of where we need to be, which further amplifies this problem. The low level of HGV workers coupled with the fact that ‘industrial CO2 is difficult to transport and store’ could result in the shortage of carbon dioxide being greater than expected.
The government has now said that ’it is now up to CO2 firms to ensure continued supplies’. ‘We will continue to work with the government on this.’, the Food and Drink Federation stated. ‘It is critical that together we ensure supply can continue and that we build long-term resilience into the production of food-grade CO2’.
Written by Chanel Enow
Research compiled by Billy Ryan