- An energy shortage has cut the supply of CO2 in the UK – an essential element in meat production.
- Industry bosses are warning this may mean a winter shortage of poultry, causing Christmas to be ruined.
- It is the latest of several shortages in the UK, including beer and medical equipment.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Britain is facing a severe shortage of CO2, a vital component in meat production, industry leaders are warning.
The gas is used to slaughter farm animals by making them lose consciousness. It is also used to package meat products to extend shelf life.
The shortage faced in the UK – attributed to high gas prices – could potentially “cancel Christmas,” the head of a major poultry manufacturer said.
The shortage is caused by the closure of two fertilizer plants in the UK – which produce CO2 as a byproduct – crippled by an energy shortage and high gas prices hitting the UK, the Guardian reported.
The energy shortages compounded by labor issues, partly linked to Brexit and the lack of foreign workers, could spiral into the festive period, said the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, a major turkey company
“There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever before to try and recruit people to maintain food supplies,” Ranjit Singh Boparan told Sky News.
“The supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys this Christmas was already compromised as I need to find 1,000 extra workers to process supplies. Now with no CO2 supply, Christmas will be canceled.
“Without CO2, the bottom line is there is less throughout and with our sector is already compromised with lack of labor, this potentially tips us over the edge,” said Boparan.
Ian Wright, the chief executive of the UK Food and Drink Federation, warned that without rapid government intervention on the price of gas, the impact would be felt in two weeks, the BBC reported.
“And of course, that’s concerning because we’re beginning to get into the pre-Christmas supply period when warehouses begin to pick up, build up their stocks, ready for the push to Christmas a few weeks later,” said Wright.
Britain’s looming shortage crisis threatens empty shelves in supermarkets, empty beer barrels in pubs, and even a shortage of blood test tubes.
A Defra spokesperson said to The Guardian: “We are aware of the issues faced by some businesses and are working closely with industry to provide support and advice. We have had extensive meetings with representatives from the meat production and processing sectors, and we are continuing those conversations over the weekend.
“The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.”