Calls for clarity as C02 shortage leaves businesses running ‘day to day'
There have been calls on gas suppliers to provide clarity over when CO2 supplies will return to normal as livestock processors and drinks companies watch their reserves dwindle.
The shortage has caused concern among livestock processors, who use CO2 to stun animals.
Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said producers were getting by "day-to-day".
He added: "What we need now is a date in sight. If the gas suppliers can give us a clear date, that's desperately needed. Best guess we have is end of this week, beginning of next week. If it's that timescale, our members can plan for that; if it's longer, other decisions will need to be made."
Griffiths said some processors had reverted to using electrical stunning, but that the process is much slower, and with 60% of the poultry industry using CO2 this would not fully mitigate the shortages.
Scotland's biggest pig processor, Quality Pork Limited, sister company to UK processor Tulip and the Scottish Pork Producers (SPP) co-operative, has told the BBC it will run out of CO2 supplies today.
SPP chief executive Andy McGowan said it could send some animals to England, although CO2 shortages across the border could mean that this is only a short-term solution.
He added that over-crowding could create animal welfare problems within days.
The shortage is also affecting the drinks industry, with Coca-Cola announcing that it has "temporarily paused" some production, although this has not had an effect on supplies.
Several pub groups have told The Caterer they are carefully monitoring the situation, particularly in light of the World Cup providing a boost for beer sales.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "The CO2 shortage is a significant crisis for the hospitality sector, but suppliers are working hard to try to manage the impact and ensure that supply is not severely disrupted.
"This shortage is not helped by the fact that it is happening during the World Cup, when demand is likely to be higher in pubs and bars. If the shortage in CO2 is not dealt with pretty quickly, then some venues could find themselves facing real trouble.
"Venues will need to be diligent and plan ahead as much as they are able to do so, and UKHospitality is liaising with its members to ensure that the correct guidance is in place for businesses.
"There is a limit to what we can do beyond ensuring that businesses are kept up to date as suppliers look to rectify the problem, but we will continue to keep our members informed."
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