Britain faces a shortage of frozen food and even Christmas turkeys due to a sudden lack of carbon dioxide used by the food and beverage industry.
The shortage of gas will affect the supply of meat to supermarkets and restaurants in a matter of days, which is important for refrigeration and distribution.
Ocado has halted deliveries of frozen products to customers as a result of a dry ice shortage, while the British Poultry Council (BPC) has warned that the industry is on a “downward spiral towards severely struggling supply chains”. is increasing.
A sharp rise in global gas prices has meant that two large fertilizer plants in Teesside and Cheshire, which produce CO2 as a by-product, have closed.
Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng held a meeting with industry leaders on Saturday over the shortage and insisted there is “no cause for immediate concern”.
But food industry bosses warned that the problem is a “national security issue” that needs to be tackled urgently.
Bernard Mathews and 2 Sisters Food Group owner Ranjit Singh Boparan said both a shortage of carbon dioxide and workers would hit turkey supplies for Christmas.
He said, “There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever to try and recruit people to maintain the food supply.” Is.”
“This Christmas supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys was already compromised because I need to find 1,000 additional workers to process the supply. Christmas will be canceled with no CO2 supply now.”
He added: “The CO2 issue is a huge body-shock and puts us at breaking point, it really does. That’s poultry, beef, pork, as well as the wider food industry.
“Without CO2, the bottom line is low through-put and our region is already compromised with labor shortages, potentially suggesting us on edge.”
CO2 reduction will also affect slaughterhouses, meaning pigs and poultry cannot be processed and will have to be kept on farms, with potential impacts to animal welfare.
Mr Bopran said: “The overall effect is well-being compromised and there is a huge shortage in supply. Ready food loses that important shelf life. There is potential for massive food waste across the board.
“This is clearly a national security issue and, unlike the labor supply crisis, where the government’s response to our region has been disappointing to say the least, it must be dealt with as urgently.”
British Poultry Council chief Richard Griffiths said he hoped to avoid the crisis “through swift government action”, while Nick Allen of the British Meat Processors’ Association warned that the pig sector is two weeks away from an animal welfare crisis because For slaughter of animals due to supply disruption. He added: “Doing nothing is not an option.”
CO2 reduction will also affect packaged products such as cheese and salads, and bakery items that last longer in supermarkets. “We need to get this resolved quickly,” said Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods.
Ministers are facing calls for an immediate “intervention” on gas prices.
UK Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright told BBC Radio 4 on Saturday that the effects would be felt within two weeks if the government did not act.
He added: “And of course, it’s concerning because we’re starting to get into the pre-Christmas supply period, when warehouses start lifting, building up their stock, ready for Christmas a few weeks later. It happens.”
Mr Quarteng will meet with Jonathan Brearley, the head of energy regulator Ofgame, on Sunday to “discuss the broader impact of global gas prices”.
A spokesman for Ofgem said the regulator is “working closely with the government and industry to ensure consumers continue to be protected while global gas prices remain high”.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the issue “underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, domestic renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels”.
“We are aware of the issues facing some businesses and are working closely with the industry to provide support and advice,” a Defra spokesperson said.
“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 access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure that homes, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at reasonable prices.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /