Booker, one of the largest wholesalers in the country, has set a limit for the supply of beer, cider and soft drinks due to the shortage of food grade carbon dioxide (CO2). The move that comes amid the heat wave and football World Cup has raised concerns among the trade bodies.
Booker is only supplying 10 cases of each type of beer per customer, five cases of cider and introduced similar limits on soft drinks.
A spokesperson for the wholesaler told ITV News: “Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer.
“We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact for our customers and to optimise availability with the stock that is available. Therefore, cannot comment further at this stage.”
The CO2 shortage is caused by maintenance shutdowns at ammonia and bioethanol plants across Europe, major sources of CO2. Suppliers of chicken, pork and bagged salad have also been affected as dry ice, another form of CO2, is on short supply.
Industry bodies have raised concerns on the issue that affects much of the UK’s £112 billion farm-to-fork supply chain. There is still no clarity regarding how long the shortage might last and the scale of such a shortage.
“At this stage, there is still a key question about when a regular supply of CO2 will be available. We remain in discussion with a number of governmental departments to establish a clear timeframe and we hope the issue can be resolved as quickly as possible,” said a spokesperson for Food and Drink Federation.
Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) said the impact is going to have not just on food and drink manufacturers but on convenience store retailers.
“The SGF is concerned to hear about the potential impact the growing shortage of CO2 will have on both food and drink manufacturers and retailers. Despite these difficulties, SGF would hope that manufacturers will be fair with the distribution of any remaining stocks of products such beers, ciders and soft drinks.
At a time when we are in the in the middle of the football World Cup, enjoying hot weather and people wanting to have barbecues, retailers may be faced with the prospect of having nothing to sell to their customers. SGF hope the CO2 shortage is resolved soon so as to minimise any negative impact,” said Pete Cheema OBE, chief executive of SGF.