A CO2 shortage is causing a beer and meat crisis in Britain

Production fizzle.
Production fizzle.
Image: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth
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Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used in the production of a wide variety of food and drink products. But with at least five CO2 producers across northern Europe offline, a shortfall in the gas is causing shortages in beer, fizzy drinks, and meat.

Britain is particularly affected because the seasonal shutdown of the plants has meant that the UK has only one big plant producing CO2 left.

The British Beer and Pub Association, along with individual beer producers and pubs, has warned of the crisis caused by the shortage. Without naming companies, the trade association said the shortfall has caused beer production shortages. Heineken, the UK’s biggest brewer, said its CO2 supplier was facing “a major issue” in the UK. Meanwhile, one of Britain’s biggest pub chains, Wetherspoons, said it’ll be forced to pull a number of beers and fizzy drinks from its menu soon.

CO2 is also vital in both the production and packaging of meat. Already nine of the UK’s largest poultry plants have warned of the “critical” shortage of CO2 affecting output.

The Food and Drink Federation said this week that the industry is worried about the CO2 shortage, while the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers said it will meet the Department for Food and Rural Affairs and the Food Standards Agency to discuss what the potential knock-on effects to the nation’s food industry will be.