The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) has said it has “serious concerns” following the decision by CF Fertilisers UK to temporarily half ammonia production at its Billingham complex in the north of England.
Announcing the decision, CF Fertilisers said that ammonia production is uneconomical at current natural gas prices.
In addition, carbon dioxide (CO2) production, a byproduct of the ammonia production process, will also stop.
The Billingham factory is the last remaining fertiliser manufacturing facility in the UK, and produces 42% of the UK’s CO2 requirements.
Reacting to the announcement, Nick Allen from the BMPA said that UK supplies of CO2 were already vulnerable, and with other suppliers in Europe also cutting production, it has left processors scrambling to secure supplies. In the UK meat industry, CO2 is widely used as part of the slaughter process of pigs and poultry.
“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,” said Allen.
Last September, government stepped in to ensure CF Fertilisers maintained CO2 production at Billingham. According to Allen, they are going to need to do something similar again.