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Christmas Dinners Could Be Cancelled If CO2 Gas Supplies Get Worse

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Christmas Dinners Could Be Cancelled If CO2 Gas Supplies Get Worse

Christmas dinners could be cancelled this year if the UK continues to suffer from a carbon dioxide shortage.

CO2 is pretty vital to the country's food and drink industry. It's used for everything, from putting the fizz in drinks to being pumped into the packaging of fresh food such as meat and poultry, in order to extend their shelf life.

However, there's recently been a sharp rise in gas prices leading to two large fertiliser plants in Teesside and Cheshire closing. These plants produce CO2 as a by-product, which has meant a cut to the supply to the food industry.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, told ITV the issue will hit the supply of turkeys for Christmas.

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He said: "There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever before to try and recruit people to maintain food supplies."

Boparan pointed out he is already struggling due to a lack of workers - and said that he needed to find '1,000 extra' people to help process supplies.

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

With the CO2 supply now becoming a major talking point, he fears Christmas will be cancelled.

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He said: "The CO2 issue is a massive body blow and puts us at breaking point, it really does - that's poultry, beef, pork, as well as the wider food industry.

"Without CO2, the bottom line is there is less throughput and with our sector already compromised with lack of labour, this potentially tips us over the edge."

The business owner continued: "When poultry cannot be processed it means they must be kept on farms where there are potential implications for animal welfare, so the overall effect is welfare compromised and greatly reduced supply.

"Ready meals lose that vital shelf life. There is potential for massive food waste across the board."

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He added that it was a 'national security issue' and called on the government to intervene.

He continued: "I'd like to see CO2 supplies prioritised for the food sector so UK supply can be maintained and for the government to support these fertiliser plants who are saying they've switched off because of the rising price of natural gas.

"It's tough enough having one hand tied behind our backs by simply not having enough people to supply food.

"With the CO2 on top of this, both hands are tied. Government need to act now or we'll have another cancelled Christmas."

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Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

A Defra spokesman told ITV: "We are aware of the issues faced by some businesses and are working closely with industry to provide support and advice.

"We have had extensive meetings with representatives from the meat production and processing sectors, and we are continuing those conversations over the weekend.

"The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.

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"Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels."

Given the disruption that the pandemic caused to last year's Christmas, the possibility of a second festive period in a row decimated by chaos is a rum thought indeed.

Featured Image Credit: Pexels

Topics: Food, Christmas, UK News

Simon Catling
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