CO2 shortage leaves some pubs without draught beer and cider
Some Wetherspoon pubs are temporarily without draught John Smith's and Strongbow cider and a science centre has cancelled its summer programme due to the carbon dioxide shortage.
It comes as food and drink companies put plans in place to minimise disruption for consumers.
A Wetherspoon spokesman said some pubs would be without John Smith’s and Strongbow cider but said that supplier Heineken had advised both would be available again in a couple of days.
He said: “Wetherspoon has the advantage that it sources its wide range of drinks from a number of suppliers, so has not been too badly affected.
“Heineken has been the company with the biggest issues and they have told us that all is getting back to normal.”
Punch Taverns, which has around 1,300 pubs, said it has had shortfalls of John Smith’s and Amstel for almost a week, with Birra Moretti also now in short supply.
A spokesman said: “We are working closely with suppliers to ensure that alternative products are available and we continue to communicate with our publicans to minimise any disruption. We are hoping that product availability will be restored within the next few days.”
A Heineken spokeswoman said: “We’d like to reassure beer drinkers that all our breweries are operating at full capacity, and we’re working 24/7 to get beers to our customers as quickly as possible.”
Ei, the UK’s largest pub group which runs the Craft Union and Bermondsey Pub Company chains, said: “We are aware of the issue relating to a shortage in the supply of CO2 and are working with our suppliers to minimise any disruption to our customers and our publicans.”
The Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) visitor attraction said it had been unable to get the dry ice it needed for its new show due to the European shortage of CO2.
Resident scientist Sam Langford said: “Here at GSC we use carbon dioxide in its solid form in our science shows to demonstrate a number of scientific phenomena, including sublimation, ocean acidification and the three states of matter.
“However, recently we’ve had some trouble obtaining dry ice from our suppliers due to a European shortage of CO2.
“Our plans for our brand new summer show have been put on hold.
“Whilst this is a small problem for GSC, dry ice and other forms of CO2 being in short supply is a major problem for a number of industries for whom it is an essential product.”
Food wholesaler Booker said it was limiting sales of some lines to 10 cases per customer per day to prevent “sub-wholesaling”.
The Tesco-owned retailer, which is used by bars, restaurants and traders, said the move was to preserve availability and satisfied the “vast majority of Booker customers”.
A Booker spokeswoman said: “Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer. We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact for our customers.”
Tesco said the CO2 shortage had not resulted in any availability issues on any product lines.
However, Booker’s move to ration sales followed Scotland’s largest pig processing plant suspending its slaughtering process, Coca-Cola temporarily pausing some production lines and Morrisons and Ocado telling customers that the shortage had led to disruption to some frozen product lines.
Quality Pork Limited in Brechin, Angus, carried out its last slaughter on Tuesday due to a lack of the gas used to stun animals before they are killed.
There are plans to send around 1,000 pigs to another plant near Manchester this week, but operators say the CO2 shortage could have serious implications if the shortage continues.
British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chief executive Nick Allen said the situation was getting “pretty tight”, exacerbated by the hot temperatures.
Mr Allen said: “The frustration is the lack of information. We understand that several (CO2) producers are reopening plants and restarting production, but getting information is very difficult, which makes it very difficult to plan.
“Things are getting pretty tight and this hot weather won’t be helping. If things don’t alter this week, we’re going to see people having to make some serious decisions, mainly in the pig production area.”
Poultry slaughterhouses have already called for priority supplies of dwindling CO2 stocks, saying the current shortage could have a “potentially huge effect” on British food production.
A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said CO2 supply issues remained and retailers and suppliers were working hard to ensure food availability was maintained.
The BRC said: “We are aware of specific pressures in some areas such as carbonated soft drinks, beer, British chicken and British pork but the majority of food products are unaffected and retailers do not anticipate food shortages.
“However, it is likely that the mix of products available may be affected.”
The shortages are understood to have been caused by a longer than usual break in production of ammonia, one of the key sources of food grade CO2 in Europe - which is used to carbonate drinks and preserve some packed fresh foods.
Trade journal Gas World said the shortage had been described as the “worst supply situation to hit the European carbon dioxide (CO2) business in decades”.