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British food industry demands government action over CO2 shortage By Reuters


© Reuters. On September 18, 2021, flames emerged from a British domestic gas ring. REUTERS/Phil Noble


By Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s food industry called on the government to subsidise carbon dioxide (CO2) production during a spike in gas prices or risk the collapse of the country’s meat industries.

The rise in British gas prices forced the closure of two fertiliser factories. They were unable to produce CO2 by-product, which is used to shock animals prior to slaughter.

This shortage of CO2, also used in beer, cider, and soft drinks to make them fizzy, is coming at an awful time for the UK’s food industry. It is currently facing an urgent shortage of truck drivers as well as the effects of Brexit and COVID-19.

Nick Allen, British Meat Processors Association, stated on Saturday that the pig industry was only two weeks from reaching the buffers. The British Poultry Council however said it had members on a “knife edge” because suppliers couldn’t guarantee delivery until 24 hours in advance.

Kwasi Kwarteng (business minister) was to meet heads of UK’s top energy suppliers and operators Saturday to discuss the matter. Due to the diversity of energy sources, he said that he didn’t expect any supply emergency this year.

The food industry however stated that more assistance was required.

Allen said, “Doing nothing” is not an option. He added that, given these exceptional circumstances, it was necessary for the government to subsidise power supplies to keep fertiliser production going or to source CO2 elsewhere.

Richard Griffiths, head of the British Poultry Council said that he is working with government officials to evaluate stock levels and create contingency plans. However, he warned that food shortages could pose a threat to national security.

If slaughterhouses run out CO2, chickens, pigs, and other animals would remain on the farms. He added: “We hope that this can be prevented through quick government action.”

According to a spokesperson, the government is in constant contact with both the farming and food industries to assist them.

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