UK faces crisis as beer and chicken shortage looms

Could their World Cup be ruined by this latest disaster?
Could their World Cup be ruined by this latest disaster? Photo credit: Getty

The UK faces another major crisis - and at the worst time possible. There's a critical shortage of a key ingredient used to supply beer and chicken, just as the UK enters its peak summer consumption time.

And it could have a devastating effect on World Cup festivities, as fans prepare to celebrate the football.

Beer, soft drinks and meat producers are all warning of CO2 shortages, which are having a major impact on their businesses. The shortages are caused by ammonia manufacturing shutdowns, one of the main sources used to make food-grade CO2 in Europe.

The CO2 is used to carbonate beverages, dispense beer at pub pumps and kill chickens and keep their meat fresh.

Trade journal Gas World said the shortage had been labelled the "worst supply situation to hit the European carbon dioxide (CO2) business in decades". It's likely to continue for at least the rest of June, the journal warns.

"We are aware of a situation affecting the availability of CO2 across Europe, which has now started to impact beer producers in the UK," Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, told The Independent.

"We have recommended our members to continue to liaise with their providers directly where they have concerns over supply.

"We will continue to monitor the situation carefully. However, given the time of year and the World Cup, this situation has arisen at an unfortunate time for the brewing industry."

Supermarkets are already running out of drinks, and pubs have had the amount they can order limited.

"The shortage of CO2 across Northern Europe is impacting a wide range of businesses across the food and drink sector," the British Soft Drinks Association said in a statement.

"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."

CO2 is also used to stun and suffocate poultry. The British Poultry Council (BPC) warns up to 60 percent of poultry processing plants could be forced to shut down within days.

"We are assessing what the possible impact on food supply might be, and BPC members are working hard to minimise the effect," BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths told the Grocer magazine.