Pig processing plant to suspend production amid CO2 shortage

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Scotland’s largest pig processing plant is to suspend its slaughtering process on Tuesday amid a Europe-wide shortage of CO2.

Quality Pork Limited in Brechin, Angus, will carry out its last slaughter at 4pm due to a lack of the gas used to stun animals before they are killed.

There are plans to send around 1,000 pigs to another plant near Manchester this week, but operators say the CO2 shortage could have serious implications if the shortage continues.

Beer, fizzy drinks and meat producers have all warned of possible shortages caused by a lack of the gas as the UK enters peak consumption amid World Cup festivities and high summer temperatures.

Coca-Cola Great Britain said it had temporarily paused some production lines for short periods but stressed there had been no disruption to supply.

In a statement, the soft drinks giant said: “We are currently responding to an industry-wide issue that is impacting the supply of C02 in the UK. Our focus is on limiting the effect this may have on the availability of our products.

“During this time we temporarily paused some of our production lines for short periods; however, there has been no disruption to supply to date and we are continuing to fulfil orders to our customers.

“We are working closely with our suppliers, partners and customers on a number of solutions as the situation develops.”

Morrisons stock
Morrisons said some frozen products had been affected by the shortage (Mikael Buck/Morrisons/PA)

Quality Pork Limited operates in collaboration with UK-wide meat processor Tulip and the Scottish Pig Producers (SPP) co-operative, whose chief executive, Andy McGowan, said the industry was facing an unprecedented situation.

Mr McGowan said he did not know when to expect the next CO2 delivery from supplier BOC.

He said: “That’s the frustrating thing – they’re not telling us anything. We’re pretty dismayed.

“The top priority is animal welfare – we will not have ourselves in a situation where the welfare is suffering.”

British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) chief executive Nick Allen said the situation was getting “pretty tight”, exacerbated by the hot temperatures.

Mr Allen said: “The frustration is the lack of information. We understand that several (CO2) producers are reopening plants and restarting production, but getting information is very difficult, which makes it very difficult to plan.

“Things are getting pretty tight and this hot weather won’t be helping. If things don’t alter this week, we’re going to see people having to make some serious decisions, mainly in the pig production area.”

Poultry slaughterhouses have already called for priority supplies of dwindling CO2 stocks, saying the current shortage could have a “potentially huge effect” on British food production.

The shortages are understood to have been caused by a longer than usual break in production of ammonia, one of the key sources of food grade CO2 in Europe – which is used to carbonate drinks and preserve some packed fresh foods.

CO2 supply disrupted
Fizzy drinks producers have warned of possible shortages caused by the lack of CO2 supplies (Anthony Devlin/PA)

The UK has been hit particularly hard as only one major CO2 plant was operating earlier this week and imports from the continent have been affected by shut-downs in Benelux and France.

The British Soft Drinks Association said the shortage was continuing to affect a wide range of businesses across the food and drink sector.

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