Soft drinks makers are looking for alternative sources of CO2 © madeaw -
Soft drinks makers are looking for alternative sources of CO2 © madeaw -

'Work with suppliers to tackle CO2 shortage'

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
26 June 2018

Organisations should be working closely with suppliers to find a solution to the CO2 shortage that has hit UK food and drink supply chains.

Pig and poultry producers along with soft drinks manufacturers and brewers have all declared production problems as a result of the shortage, caused by a shutdown in CO2 production facilities across northern Europe.

Alex Saric, chief marketing officer at procurement software firm Ivalua, told SM “proactive and scalable supplier collaboration” was necessary to prevent future problems.

“This CO2 shortage couldn’t have come at a worse time for the UK. It's summer, and Brits have got World Cup fever, which will be driving higher than usual demand for soft drinks and beer. The likes of Coca-Cola and Amstel have paused production due to the shortage, meaning this could have an impact later in the summer,” he said.

“It’s not clear how long the shortage will last, so organisations affected need to work closely with their suppliers to find a solution, or try to find an alternative short term supply to ensure that this doesn’t impact on consumers. Organisations must enable proactive and scalable supplier collaboration and visibility to ensure such supply challenges don't occur again.”

The British Soft Drinks Association said the shortage was “due to the closure of several CO2 production sites, for various reasons including maintenance and refurbishment”.

Director general Gavin Partington said: “The shortage of CO2 across northern Europe is impacting a wide range of businesses across the food and drink sector.

“Soft drinks producers in the UK are taking active steps to maintain their service to customers including working with their suppliers to mitigate the impact as well as looking at alternative sources.”

Drinks wholesaler LWC said there would be shortages of Heineken products including John Smith's Extra Smooth, Amstel and Kronenbourg 1664.

“Heineken UK & Europe are currently suffering from a shortage of CO2 due to supplier shortages. This has an effect on Heineken and some of their products as they use CO2 in their filtration and packaging process, meaning production will be limited in the short term,” said LWC.

The British Poultry Council (BPC) said the CO2 used in food manufacture was mainly a by-product of ammonia production, used in fertiliser, which had dropped in the past year due to low prices, contributing to the shortage.

CO2 is used to stun birds in the slaughter process and for packaging, which means production will be halted or slowed.

BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths said: “With the supply of CO2 tightened across Europe, the British Poultry Council is calling on government and major gas producers to prioritise supplies to slaughterhouses and keep the food chain moving.

“It is worrying that failures in the gas sector can have such a potentially huge effect on British food production. The BPC will be working closely with Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs], BEIS [Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy], retailers, and gas suppliers to implement contingency plans and mitigate any major impact on sustainable supply of food.”

Helen Munday, chief scientific officer at the Food and Drink Federation, said: “FDF and its members are concerned about CO2 supplies and the lack of clarity regarding how long a shortage might last and the scale of such a shortage.

“Despite the focus in the media on certain sectors, this is an issue that will affect much of the UK's £112bn farm-to-fork supply chain. Government must act with urgency to assess the issue as quickly as possible and support the industry through any period of restricted supply.”

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