Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has written to the government, warning that the food supply chain is “now seriously compromised by the disruptions in the supply of CO2.”

In his letter to the Secretary of State for Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, Wright explained that two thirds of the CO2 volume that normally supplies the food and drink industry is now not available following the suspension of manufacturing by key producers – principally fertiliser manufacturers who produce CO2 as a by-product.

Wright warned that the FDF were now aware of some companies who have already had to stop production, and others that “will cease within the week.”

The letter stated that there is a united view among companies within the industry that the situation is worsening with little prospect of additional CO2 supply unless the UK government intervenes.

The FDF has asked the government to:

  • Make any subsidies connected to the current issue of wholesale gas prices available for the manufacturers of fertiliser, to ensure there is no further deterioration across the UK food and drink supply, and production can be restored
  • Prioritise any existing CO2 supply for the health and emergency services, and the UK food and drink industry.

Within the letter, the FDF boss also urged the government to consider a joint-funded project with industry “to ensure they do all they can to ensure supply is protected over the medium-term.”

Wright said: “While there is no danger of us running out of food or drink, we will see the impact of this on UK shop shelves and in hospitality very soon. Sudden and unpredictable changes to availability are very likely. Continuing labour shortages and rising costs of raw materials are also important disrupters. We are working with government to identify an urgent solution to the immediate supply crisis, as well as how best to safeguard against future incidents.”