UK pubs and cafes are hoping to make at least £128 million during the World Cup as fans gather in their locals. Following the hottest, and probably thirstiest, May on record, Brits are bracing for above-average temperatures throughout the summer. This would be good news for pubs, but the UK along with Europe is running out of CO2. This is the gas that puts the fizz in beer and carbonated beverages.
Supplies began drying up two months ago when a few plants shut down for planned maintenance. But there have also been some unexpected closures because of technical issues. Now only one large manufacturer in the UK is producing CO2. The shortage will affect both big and independent brewers, as well as pubs and supermarkets.
Heineken’s Amstel and Smiths beer are hard hit by the CO2 shortage. Heineken said it was “working with customers to minimise disruption.” Grocer magazine reported that Heineken had written to pubs limiting the amount they will be able to order of the affected products. Heineken confirmed that they had been notified that their CO2 supplier was facing a major issue with shortages.
Wetherspoons pub chain said that while it had not had any supply issues yet, “that is likely to change in the coming days, and it’s not likely to get any better. There might be some products we don’t have available and if it affects Wetherspoons, then it will affect everyone else.”
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which represents brewers and 20,000 UK pubs, said the CO2 shortage was beginning to cause stoppages in beer production, although it did not name specific companies.
The trade publication Gasworld reported that carbonated drink producers are desperate thanks to the worst CO2 supply crisis in decades. Southern Europe, including Hungary and Romania, has ready supplies of the gas, but transporting it to northern Europe requires specialist pressurised transport.
The British Meat Producers Association is asking officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to prioritise meat producers when finding backup supplies of CO2. The gas is used in preparation and packaging of chicken and other meats. The British Poultry Council reports that the CO2 crisis could knock out 60 percent of UK poultry plants within days.