A plant in Billingham, Durham restarted production of CO2 today (Monday 2 July) but producers have warned it will take up to three weeks for supplies to return to normal.
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), said: “We are hoping the increase in CO2 production will happen quickly. We have a number of plants that will be in difficulty by the end of the week if supplies do not materialise and it will be very difficult to keep everyone stocked with meat.”
“It will take time for that to filter through the supply chain and we are still expecting plants to be experiencing problems over the next two to three weeks until normal supplies are fully restored.”
Allen said plants are working to minimise disruption to the supply chain. “Plants are having to improvise, which they can do by changing packaging methods. This is being done in close consultation with their customers to try to ensure consumers are able to find meat in the shops and enjoy it in restaurants and other outlets. Some ranges are having to be compromised on to ensure shelves are kept full.
“Logistically it is proving very challenging for the meat supply chain and everyone is working hard to overcome the problems. Demand is particularly high at this time for barbeque meat due to the hot weather and, of course, the World Cup.”
Tulip was forced to close its Brechin processing plant in Scotland last week due to the lack of CO2, while British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths warned that processors “would have to make some tough decisions soon”.
The shortage also spread to the bakery industry, with Warburton’s forced to halt production at plants due to it being unable to create long-life packaging for its crumpets.