UK’s biggest chicken producer says industry is at ‘breaking point’


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Britain’s largest chicken producer warned that the meat industry was reaching its limits and called on the government to tackle the gas crisis that is currently threatening the country’s food production.

The meat industry is facing a serious shortage of carbon dioxide after two large fertilizer plants in the UK have shut down due to soaring gas prices.

Factories owned by the US group CF Industries account for approximately 60% of the UK’s commercial supply of CO2 as a by-product of fertilizer production. CO2 is used in the chicken industry to stun and slaughter birds, as well as in controlled atmosphere packaging and refrigeration to extend shelf life.

2 Sisters Food Group owner Ranjit Boparan has also included Bernard Matthews, a turkey processor, in his business and has asked the government to intervene and assist in two closed factories. Without a supply of CO2, “Christmas will be canceled,” Boporan added, pointing out the risks to the supply of turkeys.

The intervention from Boparan follows a warning from the British Poultry Council that the processing plant holds only 5-7 days worth of CO2 on the premises. As a result, the UK industry can rapidly face meat processing problems, which can lead to meat shortages and farm welfare problems. The industry processes about 20 million birds a week.

The government is struggling to cope with the turmoil unleashed by record high gas prices. The turmoil has had devastating effects on the energy-intensive sector, such as fertilizer production, in the food industry.

Online supermarket Ocado said late Friday that it had curtailed delivery of frozen foods due to a shortage of dry ice made from CO2 and used to cool items.

“We want to prioritize CO2 supply to the food sector so that the government can support these fertilizer plants that say they have stopped supply in the UK and shut down due to rising natural gas prices,” Boparan said. .. statement. “I’ve never seen anything like this since I started in 1992.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Areas will hold an emergency meeting with meat processors and industry groups on Thursday, with further discussions scheduled for Monday. The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said a CO2 deficiency would cause “massive turmoil” within two weeks.

Boparan says, “Gap in the shelves … It’s getting bigger day by day. This Christmas Bernard Matthews turkey supply is already at risk because we need to find 1,000 additional workers to process the supplies. Christmas has been canceled due to the lack of CO2 supply. “

Birds can also be stunned electrically. Approximately half of slaughterhouses can use this method of equipment, but switching to electrical shock will reduce the processing capacity of these plants by 30%, the British Poultry Council said.

Pork processors also use CO2, but both departments are already suffering from labor shortages and their processing capacity is declining. The two sisters said they are usually facing a 10 percent labor shortage this year, along with “unprecedented wage inflation.”

The National Pig Association has warned that 100,000 surplus animals have already been backed up on the farm due to labor shortages in processing, and there is a high degree of debate about the selection of healthy pigs.

Nick Allen, CEO of BMPA, said: To keep the UK food chain moving, we rely on by-products from their production process. “

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