Farming News - Farming Organisations warns of threat to supplies from CO2 crisis

Farming Organisations warns of threat to supplies from CO2 crisis

20 Sep 2021
Frontdesk / Arable / Livestock

Reuters has reported that some of Britain's meat processors will run out of carbon dioxide (CO2) within five days, forcing them to halt production and impacting supplies to food retailers, according to the head of the industry's lobby group has warned.

A jump in gas prices has forced several domestic energy suppliers such as CF fertilisers out of business and has shut fertiliser plants that also make CO2 as a by-product of their production process causing a shortage.

The CO2 gas is used to stun animals before slaughterand also in the vacuum packing of food products to extend their shelf life. CO2's solid form is dry ice, which is used in food deliveries.

Nick Allen of the British Meat Processors Association told Sky News :"My members are saying anything between five, 10 and 15 days supply remain.

"With no CO2 a meat processor cannot operate.

"The animals have to stay on farm. They'll cause farmers on the farm huge animal welfare problems and British pork and British poultry will disappear off the shelves," Allen said.

"We're two weeks away from seeing some real impacts on the shelves," he said, adding that poultry could start disappearing even sooner."

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: "The NFU is aware of reports that ammonia nitrate manufacturer CF Fertilisers is suspending production of fertilisers at its sites in Billingham and Ince because of high energy prices.

“We are seeking urgent clarification from CF and have already engaged with the wider supply chain and our members to assess the current situation on farm and across the supply chain, to understand the likely impacts a shortage of ammonia nitrogen will have now and on future crops and to identify potential solutions.

“This news will be of immense concern to farmers. Due to the recent high price of fertilisers, some growers will not yet have placed orders or taken delivery of much-needed fertilisers. The timing of reducing artificial fertiliser supply is particularly unfortunate just as Defra reinforces strict rules on the use of organic manures.

“In addition, a direct consequence of these fertiliser plants closing is the significant pressure it puts on CO2 supply. This shortage is already having serious implications for food production which will continue over the coming days and weeks, putting added strain on a food supply chain already under significant pressure due to lack of labour.

“This issue highlights the fragility of the UK food system and by extension the vulnerability of UK food security. It has never been more important for all government departments to recognise and value British food and farming.”

Patrick Holden, CEO & Founder of The Sustainable Food Trust: "The latest gas price increases and food shortages we are witnessing have exposed the double crises of energy and food insecurity, serious threats to our country's economy and millions of peoples livelihoods.
"Government and business leaders need to go beyond short term sticking plaster solutions and accelerate moves towards more systemic change. We will need to move quicker to 100% renewable energy, if we want long term energy security.
"And if we are serious about food security then we will need a National Food and Farming Strategy that is harmonised with nature and climate, switching to much greater local food production. This will mean rebuilding local farming and food infrastructure from local markets, storage and abattoirs - which we have completely lost since the second world war. 
"To drive this food revolution we need the government, food companies and retailers to incentivise this change, rewarding farmers who produce nature and climate friendly local food."