The British government is trying to prevent shortages of meat, poultry and packaged food, which have arisen amid soaring electricity prices. Energy Secretary Quasi Quarteng hopes to find a way out of the crisis with an agreement with a major supplier of carbon dioxide, which is needed for carbonated drinks, stunning animals before slaughter, and canning fruits and vegetables before packaging, the Associated Press reports.
Quarteng is in talks with fertilizer company CF Industries, which suspended operations in the UK on September 15 due to high natural gas prices. “We hope that today we can sort it out and resume production in the next few days. We’re still working on the details, ”Quarteng said and warned that rescuing the plant would be costly. According to him, the government is discussing a number of options, including subsidizing the company’s production.
If the deal doesn’t take place soon, shoppers will start to notice food shortages on store shelves. Ian Wright, executive director of the food and beverage trade association, estimates that the deficit will be visible “in about ten days.” He also added that the supermarket supply chain “is under the greatest stress it has ever experienced.” Wright called the situation “a real crisis.”
British Poultry Council executive director Richard Griffiths said carbon shortages would be a problem for the industry. “This is really the worst-case scenario, so we are so hopeful that the government can intervene,” he said.
The pressure on the UK food industry is one of the most visible impacts of the surge in natural gas prices as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Wholesale gas prices in the UK have tripled this year. The country was predicted to rise in the cost of food due to the energy crisis as fertilizer factories shut down, causing the food industry to suffer.