There are concerns emerging in the supply chain for food-grade CO2 following the announcement this week by CF Industries that it will be curtailing fertiliser production in the UK, Paul Kelly of Food Drink Ireland has said.
CF Industries owns CF Fertilisers, the largest ammonia, fertiliser and carbon dioxide (CO2) producer in the UK.
It, along with other European fertiliser manufacturers, is to halt ammonia production due to surging gas prices.
CO2 is the main by-product of ammonia production and CO2 is used by food, drink and meat processors for production. Ireland is reliant on the gas being imported.
The gas is used for many applications across the food and drink sector, Kelly told the Irish Farmers Journal.
“Similar supply shortage situations deteriorated quickly in 2018 and 2021.
“The food and drink processing sector, which is already facing a very difficult environment with high input cost inflation and other supply chain shortages, will continue to monitor this carefully in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
Conor Mulvihill of Dairy Industry Ireland (DII) said that the country’s dairy sector is not overly reliant on CO2 and that alternatives, such as nitrogen for packing, can be used.
“So far, DII has had no member issues with CO2 supplies,” he said.
British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) CEO Nick Allen has said the British meat industry will have serious concerns if CF Fertilisers follows through with its curtailment of ammonia production.
“Without sufficient CO2 supplies, the UK will potentially face an animal welfare issue with a mounting number of pigs and poultry unable to be sent for processing.
“It’s for this reason that securing CO2 supplies is of key strategic importance and, following this latest development, we can’t see how government can sit on the sidelines and insist that it’s for companies to work it out amongst themselves. They are going to need to step in,” he said.
In 2018, the BMPA warned that food and drink manufacturing processors and businesses could grind to a halt if they could not secure an adequate supply of the gas.
Last year, there was a shortage of CO2 in the UK, which required the British government to step in to secure supplies.