World Cup barbecues may be under threat as beers, fizzy drinks and meat producers warn of potential shortages caused by a lack of CO2.
The British Retail Consortium has written to major retailers informing them that drinks and meat supplies could be affected as at least one UK gas supplier has had to ration orders.
The shortages come as many prepare to party while they follow England’s progress in the football World Cup in Russia. Sales of alcohol and soft drinks are also expected to be boosted after the World Cup by what is forecast to be a long hot summer running through until August.
It is understood that most drinks manufacturers hold at least two weeks stock, while retailers are likely to hold more. But retailers have expressed concerns that stocks of fizzy drinks could run short in a few days during one of their busiest times of the year.
Tesco’s website already showed a number of its own-label fizzy drinks were out of stock on Tuesday and its website warned of “a supply issue”. Morrisons said some Sprite and R Whites products were out of stock due to “limited supply”.
One industry source said Britvic, which also produces Pepsi and R Whites in the UK, and Heineken were already being affected. Another said one small brewer, thought to be Brewdog, had also been hit.
Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “We are aware of a situation affecting the availability of CO2 across Europe, which has now started to impact beer producers in the UK.
“We will continue to monitor the situation carefully. However, given the time of year and the World Cup, this situation has arisen at an unfortunate time for the brewing industry.”
Retailers told the Guardian that there were also fears about fresh food supplies as CO2 is used in packing fresh meat and salads, as well as in the slaughtering process for poultry and pigs.
“At the moment we are looking at ways to keep the supply chain moving and we have not heard that any of our members have stopped production,” said Fiona Steiger, deputy director of the British Meat Processors Association.
Trade journal Gas World said the UK was hit particularly hard as only one major CO2 plant was operating earlier this week and imports from the continent had been affected by shut-downs in Benelux and France. It said shortages were expected to continue throughout this month.
Gasworld says most food-grade CO2 comes from ammonia plants that manufacture fertilizer, which normally slow down production in the summer months.
It said well known soft drinks brands were “desperate to obtain product”.
It couldn’t come at a worse time, as British soccer fans are expected to consume an extra 14 million pints of beer over the next two weeks thanks to the 2018 World Cup.
“Who’s going to watch the World Cup if there’s no beer?!” one fan in the UK told Global News.
“Obviously with the World Cup on, nobody wants to be running out with a pub full of hopefully happy England fans,” Pub owner Mark O’Neill said.
The news also comes as reports that Moscow restaurants are being drunk dry in the midst of the World Cup.
“We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” said one waiter at a upscale eatery in central Moscow, who asked not to be identified for fear of scaring off future customers.
The waiter said his restaurant ran out of draft lager on Monday and deliveries are taking longer than usual, at least 24 hours, because suppliers’ stocks are also running low.
“There are really a lot of people in Moscow … and they are all drinking,” he said. “It’s hot, and it’s football.”
千城千面 | 爱上利兹的N+1个理由