Soaring gas prices fuel fears of UK meat production ‘crisis’
Carbon dioxide is used to stun pigs and chickens before slaughter and in packaging and is a by-product of fertilizer production.
However, due to high gas prices, two of the UK’s largest fertilizer factories halted production on Thursday.
This put immediate pressure on the poultry and pork industry, as around 60% of the country’s carbon dioxide supply comes from these factories.
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Industry groups have warned that this could lead to shortages in supermarkets and the potential for hundreds of thousands of animals to be subjected to welfare slaughter.
Despite this, The Scotsman learned that the impact on the food processing industry in Scotland would likely be minimal due to less dependence on carbon dioxide due to the prevalence of cattle and sheep farming. , which does not use gas in the same quantities. .
UK government ministers have entered crisis talks, with industry figures monitoring the problem.
But Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said the issues highlighted the fragile nature of the supply chain.
He told the BBC: ‘This crisis highlights the fact that the UK food supply chain is at the mercy of a small number of large fertilizer producers – four or five companies – spread across the north of the ‘Europe. We depend on a by-product of their production. process to keep the UK food chain in motion.
British Poultry Council Managing Director Richard Griffiths added: âWith less than 100 days to Christmas and already facing growing labor shortages, the last thing UK poultry production needs is more. pressure.
âIf CO2 supplies become tighter and more unpredictable, then supply chains will have to slow down. Ultimately, no CO2 means no flow.
The carbon dioxide supply problem was initially caused by soaring natural gas prices, which forced two fertilizer factories owned by the US company CF Industries Holdings to suspend production.
Gas prices have risen by around 250% since January and 70% since August, said industry group Oil and Gas UK, which means many energy suppliers are unable to supply gas to customers.
Despite the concerns, COP26 President Alok Sharma told Sky News there was no “immediate concern” about the UK’s gas supply.
He told the Trevor Phillips on Sunday show: “The clear message that comes out of this is that there is no immediate problem in terms of supply, we do not see any risk for the winter,” a- he declared.
âPeople have to be confident that the supplies will be there and that we will protect them in terms of rising prices. But, of course, we’re not complacent about it. “
In response, a Scottish government spokesperson said: ‘The supply of energy and gas is a reserved matter. Scottish ministers will continue to press the UK government to take urgent action to maintain the security of our energy supplies and to support domestic, commercial and industrial consumers given current market conditions. “