BMPA warns Co2 shortages will lead to further disruptions
The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has spoken out about the current Co2 shortages, warning of massive disruption to the supply chain when stocks of the gas run out in less than 14 days.
BMPA explained that both fertiliser producers and, by extension their Co2 customers in the food and drink industry, are reliant on energy and commodity prices, as well as demand for ammonium nitrate staying high. If one of these gets thrown out of balance, factories either slow production or completely suspend plants. The result is that Co2 supplies dry up.
Once current stocks of the gas run out, which is estimated to be in less than 14 days, some companies are predicted to stop taking animals and close production lines. This, in turn, is thought to lead to a logjam of animals back to the farms.
BMPA stated that there is a similar situation in the pig industry which is now facing the imminent prospect of a humane cull on farms.
For other companies producing beef and lamb, BMPA has said that these businesses could continue producing retail packs of meat, but without Co2 used in the vacuum packing process, up to five days shelf life would be lost. Given the current food chain disruption caused by a lack of HGV drivers, this could pose an additional problem for retailers.
Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA said: “This crisis highlights the fact that the British food supply chain is at the mercy of a small number of major fertiliser producers (four or five companies) spread across northern Europe. We rely on a by-product from their production process to keep Britain’s food chain moving.”
BMPA is currently lobbying the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for government support to help prop up UK Co2 production short-term. The trade body also wants government to take a firmer stance with the UK Co2 producers.
Nick Allen said: “This time, we’ve had zero warning of the planned closure of the fertiliser plants in Ince and Stockton-on-Tees and, as a result, it’s plunged the industry into chaos. We urgently need the Secretary of State for Business to convene the big Co2 manufacturers to demand that they coordinate to minimise disruption, and provide information to Britain’s businesses so contingency plans can be made.”