Anyone with even a passing interest in the drinks’ industry, won’t failed to have noticed the alarmist headlines in the media over the past few days about the shortage of CO2.
The gas, is used not just for the carbonation of fizzy drinks and packaged beer, but also in the packaging of a range of fresh foods, in order to keep them fresh during storage and transit. A rather darker use for the gas, is in pork and poultry slaughterhouses, as apparently it is one of the most humane methods to slaughter animals.
The shortage is due to a number of factors which have combined to create a perfect storm. Northern Europe has already been facing a CO2 supply problem, but now three of the largest UK plants which produce the gas have closed for maintenance, sparking panic among brewers, pub groups and food suppliers.
Demand for beer and fizzy drinks is peaking as football fans gather to watch the World Cup football, whilst enjoying the recent spell of good weather. People want to watch the football and have a pint, so the shortage could not have occurred at a more worse time. A spokesman for one well-known brewery said. “This effect will be felt right the way across the industry, from micro-brewery to large brewer.”
Not surprisingly, given its support for naturally carbonated beers, CAMRA, has seized on the opportunity to urge drinkers to abandon artificially carbonated brews. Tom Stainer, the Campaign’s chief communications officer said, “Beer drinkers concerned about the supply of beer this summer can rest easy. There are plenty of fantastic real ales, ciders and perries that will be completely unaffected by the impending CO2 shortage."
“Real ales are naturally carbonated by live yeast that is left in the bottle or cask, and are therefore ‘living products’ compared to keg beers, which artificially inject CO2 into the brew for carbonation. In addition, real ciders and perries are naturally still, making them a refreshing beverage choice in the summer heat.”
As someone who is primarily a Real Ale drinker, the CO2 shortage won’t overly bother me; although I can only begin to imagine the disruption it will cause to the food and drinks industry as a whole.
Watch this space, as they say!