Panicked victuallers are rushing to Tesco supermarket to stock up on cider and beer cans in the wake of the recent CO2 (carbon dioxide) shortage at a crucial time for bars as summer and the televised world cup bring in much-needed punters and a higher demand for soft drinks and alcohol. The question on most people’s lips: why has this happened?
The manufacturing process involves farmers releasing ammonia from fertilizer and intern capturing CO2 gas, a by-product, which will be sold commercially to the food and drinks industry. Natural gas is a key raw material in the production of ammonia and is at a high price at the moment limiting production in Europe.
Farmers in summer use less fertilizer so plants closed down for either routine planned maintenance or critical repairs and upgrades. This year in the UK and across Europe too many plants have closed down at the same time causing this current crisis.
The UK suffered the most closures leaving only one plant operating. CO2 gas is difficult and expensive to transport so food and drink producers would rather buy off local distributors. Pubs were told by suppliers next week’s orders will be short and it’s not clear how long this will go on for but contingency plans are being put in place to keep up production using less carbon dioxide.
Equally, packaged foods are affected by the shortage of CO2; they will be given a shorter shelf life affecting the length of time they’ll be left on shelves before being consumed. Producers will utilise replacement gases which are used in the vacuum-packing process for meat, poultry, cheese, salads, ready meals etc., to preserve them.
One of the UK’s largest plants, now shut down, is expected to run again next week.