CO2 leaves drinkers high and dry
The supply of CO2 for the beer and soft drinks industry is becoming an increasing concern as industry-wide shortages look to hamper the industry’s profits right before the World Cup and barbecue season gets under way.
Maintenance has been credited for the supply issues with at least five CO2 producers across northern Europe currently offline for annual site servicing. CO2 comes from ammonia plants that manufacture fertiliser, and they have their peak season over the winter period. As summer approaches they take this opportunity to prepare for the next winter season. Despite the World Cup approaching suppliers haven’t anticipated the growth in demand, subsequently creating a lack of supply.
Although alcohol producers will be the most concerned customers, carbon dioxide doesn't just put the fizz in our favourite bottled drinks. It’s also used in draft taps, airline meals, dry ice production, the packing of fresh meat for shipment and to give longer life to our table salads. Much of the preparation of these products is conducted locally, but with supply particularly bad in the UK we may have to lean on EU produces for more support.
The UK is a particularly large market, importing over a third of its CO2. Only one of central Europes' major producers is currently running, limiting the amount available to the UK. With most EU countries keen to keep supply steady over this busy period, the UK is looking into boosting production locally.
The UK has a number of plants that produce CO2, but three of the four largest are down until mid-July. Heineken, who boast the largest share of UK beer production, have written to pubs limiting the amount they can order.
Wetherspoons have made similar announcements, stating: “While we have not had any supply issues yet, that is likely to change in the coming days, and it's not likely to get any better.”
"There might be some products we don't have available and if it affects Wetherspoons, then it will affect everyone else."
It will be interesting to see how the industry responds given the business at stake, but with supply out of their hands it could be a dry summer for us all.