UK: Beer supply endangered by lack of CO2 gas

The U.K. is soon facing a severe shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas which might also affect the supply of beer, carbonated drinks and meat products. On Thursday, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has warned that the gas could be soon in short supply after CF Industries Holdings (CF) this week closed two of its plants which account for about 60% of the country’s Co2 supply.

CF said Wednesday it’s halting operations at its Billingham and Ince fertilizer plants due to high natural gas prices which make further production uneconomically. High purity CO2 is a byproduct of ammonia production which is a basic building block for ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

The surging energy prices have alarmed not only producers and house owners in the UK but also other manufactures and consumers all over Europe. Storage facilities for gas have to be refilled before the start of the winter while the supply with natural gas from Russia and Norway and liquefied natural gas from other destinations remains limited.

Co2 is used in the production of beer and carbonated drinks and is also essential to the production of meat products. "After five to seven days we’ll start to see significant problems in processing birds,"The British Poultry Council said in a statement and warned the industry was heading into a “downward spiral towards supply chains seriously struggling”.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, and are in regular contact with the food and farming organisation and industry, to help them manage the current situation,” a government spokesmen said. U.K. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced to closely monitor the price and supply situation for gas and energy in general and to be ready to take the necessary steps if required.

The lack of CO2 and the impending supply shortage for food and beverages produced with it exacerbate the already tense supply situation in the UK after Brexit. Because of the new tariffs on goods from the EU and the breakdown of existing supply chains, many shelves in supermarkets have been empty for months. The joy of broad parts of the population over the newly won independence from the rest of Europe has long since given way to the realization that leaving the European Union was a mistake. The empty supermarket shelves are a visible sign of this.

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