CO2 shortage: We need to make sure it doesn't happen again - BMPA
11th Jul 2018 / By Alistair Driver
The British meat industry has called for the Government to intervene to ensure the meat industry does not find itself at the mercy of CO2 manufacturers again.
According to British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen, things ‘seem to be slowly getting back to normal’, as CO2 supplies gradually return. Scotland’s flagship plant in Brechin was understood to have re-opened on Tuesday, after it ran out of CO2 supplies a fortnight ago, but no other plants have been forced to shut and the overall impact on production appears to be minimal.
While CO2 production has resumed in some plants, others across the UK and EU have continued to be beset by problems and supplies remain tight (see Members' Area post, July 4).
But Mr Allen said there was ‘angst’ among the processors over the rising charges for CO2 currently being demanded by the suppliers. He has been informed that the companies had allowed a ‘bidding war’ to take place among the processors who are dependent on the supplies.
“For me, the next bit of this story is about how do we make sure this does not happen again,” he said.
“This crisis has highlighted 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 their factories’ by-product to keep our food chain moving," he said,
He called for a strategic response from Government. Just as the water industry is regulated to avoid public crises, Government should be able to intervene in a more meaningful way to prevent this happening again, Mr Allen said.
He urged Business Secretary Greg Clarke to bring the big CO2 manufacturers together and demand that they coordinate to minimise disruption, and provide information to Britain's businesses so that plans can be made and future crises are avoided.
“We will get through this current crisis, but the precarious reliance of the British food industry on CO2 must be given proper consideration and innovative solutions must be found to neutralise future threats,” Mr Allen said.
AHDB market analyst Bethan Wilkins said there had been no obvious impact in pig abattoir throughputs, based on data received so far. GB estimated slaughterings for the week ended June 30, at 164,300 head, were 2% higher than the previous week.
This doesn’t necessarily mean there wasn’t an impact – the increase might have been larger without the CO2 issue, she added. The figures indicate, however, that any disruption has been limited.