Britain will be hit by a meat shortage within days, store bosses have warned.
Supermarket shelves will become devoid of beef, pork, and poultry. Chicken madras won’t be available in Britain’s curry homes and turkey will not be served at Christmas dinner.
The CO2 shortage will not only affect meat supplies.
Iceland’s boss warned that fizzy drinks, cheese, fruit, and veg could all be at risk from running out.
Britain is facing an energy crisis, with soaring wholesale gasoline prices – up 70% in the last month – forcing CF Fertilisers to stop production at two plants.
The foreign-owned factories produce 60% of the nation’s CO2 and the decision to stop production has plunged the food industry into chaos.
The gas is used for stuning animals in slaughter, packing meats and refrigeration systems.
It can also be used in beverages, such as beer, wine, cheese, and fruit and vegetable.
Iceland boss Richard Walker said: “This is no longer about whether Christmas will be OK.
“This is more about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas.
“The Government needs to prioritise CO2 to get these factories up and running to limit disruption to food supplies.
“In isolation this is a serious issue but it is compounded by the HGV driver shortage as well. All this is happening as we move towards Christmas.
“Speaking to suppliers this could become a problem over the coming days and weeks – this is not an issue that is months away. We’re building up stocks of frozen meats and we are currently fully stocked.
“Problem is, as a supermarket industry, we cannot just stockpile. There are limits to what we can do.
Nick Allen, of the British Meat Processors Association, said his members were down to a maximum of 15 days’ supply of CO2.
“That means animals will have to stay on farms. British pork and British poultry will disappear off the shelves,” he said.
“Two weeks remain before any tangible changes are seen on the shelves.
“On the poultry side we’re hearing they’re even tighter supplies so we might see poultry disappearing even sooner.”
Rob Mutimer (corr), chairman of the National Pig Association, warned farmers will have to slaughter their own animals’ due to a lack of space and feed and instead of going to butchers carcasses would simply be thrown away.
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“It’s going to spiral completely out of control,” he said.
Around 100,000 pigs are currently left on farms.
One south-east farmer said: “This is a very dark time. It is a dark time.
The British Poultry Council said that gas shortages would impact the economy this week and that millions of birds would need to be killed.
Ranjit Singh Boparan of Bernard Matthews Food Group and 2 Sisters Food Group warned that the shortage of gas will impact the availability of turkeys for Christmas.
“With no CO2 supply Christmas will be cancelled,” he said. “The CO2 issue is a massive body blow and puts us at breaking point, it really does – that’s poultry, beef, pork, as well as the wider food industry.
“Without CO2 the bottom line is there is less throughput and with our sector already compromised with lack of labour, this potentially tips us over the edge.”
Soaring gas prices are causing chaos for a range of industries.
Experts said that as well as spiralling bills for household energy, food supplies and even medical procedures are at risk.
One business consultant said the problems are so huge they could easily see a three-day working week’ across affected companies this winter.
MoneySaving Expert Martin Lewis said many people could be forced to choose between heating and eating as energy bills rise.
Kwasi Kwarteng (Business Secretary) is expected to have more talks with the energy industry as a result of calls for bailouts.
Five energy suppliers went bust in recent months. Others may be on the verge of collapse.
Boris Johnson’s green levies are being challenged by energy companies and Tory MPs.
The PM is in New York at the United Nations General Assembly. He tried to calm rising panic and said the problems should only be temporary.
He said the energy squeeze was a result of the world waking up from pandemic shutdown and compared it to everyone “going to put the kettle on at the end of the TV programme”.