The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has raised concern over potential carbon dioxide (CO2) shortages as the deal reached in October 2021 is about to expire.

Late last year, the government reached an agreement that aimed to ensure UK businesses had access to a sustainable supply of CO2 for a three-month period.

CF Fertilisers, which supplies around 60% of the UK’s commercial C02 requirements, was involved in the deal. Prior to the deal’s signing, the company temporarily shut its facilities after fertiliser manufacturing became financially unsustainable due to the rising price of wholesale gas. The shutdown had a knock-on effect across the UK food industry as CO2 is an essential element in food packaging and animal slaughter.

According to a statement by the UK government, CO2 suppliers agreed to pay CF Fertilisers a price for the CO2 it produces that would enable it to continue operating while global gas prices remained high, “drawing on support from industry and delivering value for money for the taxpayer.”

An ongoing concern

A spokesperson for the FDF said that the body is concerned that the end of the agreement will spark further CO2 shortages: “The security of food-grade CO2 supplies in the UK has been a concern for our industry for some time. Last year’s government intervention which guaranteed CF Industries’ production of CO2 until the end of this month was very welcome.

“But we are concerned that with just days now remaining before that agreement comes to an end, and energy prices still very high, there will be further CO2 shortages once again. This could lead to shortages in the products we find on our supermarket shelves – adding further pressures to families already coping with high food-price inflation.”

They added: “We will continue to work with the government on this. It is critical that together we ensure supply can continue and that we build long-term resilience into the production of food-grade CO2.”