Beer Is Being Rationed In The UK

Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2018 10:35 am
Beer is being rationed in the UK
by Ivana Kottasová @ivanakottasova
June 27, 2018: 9:51 AM ET

Beer is being rationed in the United Kingdom because of a shortage of carbon dioxide.

Booker, a major UK wholesaler owned by Tesco (TSCDY), has confirmed that it's limiting customers such as bars and grocers to 10 cases of beer (300 cans) per brand a day, the most dramatic consequence to date of a shortage that also threatens food production across Europe.

The problem extends far beyond beer: Carbon dioxide (CO2) is also used in soda and meat production, as well as food packaging, cooling and storage.

While it might sound strange, the carbon dioxide shortage has its roots in the fertilizer industry.

The carbon dioxide that makes beer and soda fizzy is a byproduct of ammonia produced for use in fertilizer. Several major ammonia plants in Europe have closed for maintenance, leading to a shortage of carbon dioxide.

The problem is most acute in the United Kingdom, where only one ammonia plant is operating normally. Food and drink industry groups expect the shortage to last a few more weeks at least.

"This is an issue that will affect much of the United Kingdom's ... farm-to-fork supply chain," said Helen Munday, the chief scientific officer at the Food and Drink Federation.

Here's what's at risk.

Soda and beer

Increased demand spurred by hot weather and the World Cup means the shortage has struck at the worst possible time for European brewers and soda producers.

Heineken (HEINY) warned last week that kegs from some brands, including Amstel, may not be available in Britain.

"We'd like to reassure beer drinkers that all our breweries are operating at full capacity, and we're working 24/7 to get beers to our customers as quickly as possible," a company spokesperson said Wednesday.

Coca Cola (KO) European Partners, which handles bottling for the soda company in Europe, said the shortage has forced it to pause some production lines for short periods of time. However, it said that supplies to customers have not been reduced.

A spokesperson for the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said Thursday that the shortage "remains an issue for industry."

"Government is in regular contact with food and drink industry stakeholders and CO2 suppliers," the spokesperson said.

Meat production

Carbon dioxide is often used to stun animals like chickens and pigs before slaughter.

Some producers have been forced to use alternative methods, such as electrical stunning. But they warn that the emergency methods are not sustainable over the long term.

"If birds cannot be stunned, then they cannot be slaughtered ... an inability to slaughter would mean birds remaining on the farm, [where] their welfare would have to be carefully managed," said Shraddha Kaul, the public affairs manager at British Poultry Council.

"Further impact may be on hatching of chicks with no farms to go to," she added.

Food packaging

Pumping carbon dioxide into food packaging can help keep items fresh for longer and slow the growth of bacteria.

Kaul said some meat producers have chosen to use their limited carbon dioxide supplies for stunning, and not packaging. Packaging without carbon dioxide reduces the shelf life of meat by at least a day.

Carbon dioxide is also used to package salads.

Frozen food deliveries

When pressurized or frozen, carbon dioxide becomes solid. The resulting substance is commonly known as "dry ice."

Dry ice is often used in food transportation because it changes directly from a solid to a gas when the pressure drops or temperature rises, leaving no residue liquid.

UK online supermarket Ocado (OCDGF) has warned customers that the carbon dioxide shortage is "limiting its ability to deliver frozen food."

-- Alanna Petroff and Matt Thompson contributed to this article.
CNNMoney (London) First published June 27, 2018: 9:12 AM ET

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Type: Question • Score: 7 • Views: 2,590 • Replies: 9
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Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2018 10:38 am
Bad news for UK beer drinkers. Just when their team makes the World Cup quarterfinals. Whatever will they drink?

And all because of a shortage of ammonia??
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Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2018 10:50 am
This is old news. It's not decent beer that's affected anyway, just the fizzy crap. I did hear that Norway was sending CO2 over.

It's not just **** beer, it's carbonated drinks, crumpets and chicken and pork, apparently CO2 is used to stun them in the abattoir.

For all the talk of rationing I've not seen any.

Maybe people will start drinking proper beer.

It looked as though the CO2 drought was over as three of the UK’s six suppliers went back into production – only for one of them, at Ince in Cheshire, to stop again after a fire caused a power cut.

The problem has been caused by a perfect storm in the CO2 production sector.

The gas is a by-product in ammonia and ethanol plants but summer is the quietest period in the calendar, so they tend to shut down for vital maintenance work.

Producers of ammonia, the critical element in fertilisers, are busiest in the winter, preparing to see farmers through the spring growing season.

But this year, the summer shutdown coincided with a spike in demand from the food and, particularly, drinks industry.

Yesterday, I went behind the scenes at the Ensus CO2 plant on Teesside’s Wilton ­petrochemical site.

The 100-strong workforce have been going flat out to make sure fans will have a pint in hand for the rest of the World Cup.

The plant shut down for 21 days in June for what bosses call its annual MOT, a total overhaul of the site, which looks like something from Blade Runner.

Workers in hard hats and blue and grey uniforms navigate the plant’s one-way system on tricycles, which chiefs say are the quickest, greenest way.

The magic happens in eight gigantic fermentors, huge silver silos that tower on the edge of the seaside town of Redcar.

Ensus primarily produces ethanol, setting up the plant in 2010 in anticipation of a new green fuel ruling from the Government that is still yet to be passed.

Its secondary product is protein-rich animal feed and thirdly – but for now most importantly – CO2 at a rate of 500 tonnes a day.

Ironically, in view of a looming beer crisis, the CO2 is created in an industrial-scale brewing process that results in the ethanol.

Grain is delivered and fermented to produce the alcohol, which is piped under the River Tees to a processing plant in Billingham.

The CO2 that creates is piped to the edge of the site and collected in two huge containers and liquefied to be taken to food and drink producers.

Ensus commercial director Grant Pearson said they could produce an endless supply of CO2 if the Government delivered on a 2009 pledge to bring in greener petrol.

All EU member states signed up to the Renewable Energy Directive, which requires 10% of road transport energy to be from renewable sources by 2020. France brought in the change in 2010 and Finland and Germany in 2012.

If the fuel directive were brought in, Ensus could expect to double production of ethanol, an essential addition to E10 petrol, and create a permanent CO2 supply.

Grant said: “Our plant was built in 2010 with the expectation that the demand for our main product, ethanol, would surge with the introduction of E10. But eight years later it still hasn’t arrived.

“It means the plant is ticking over but we’re still at risk if the demand reduces. We’ve been only too eager to help get the CO2 supply running again but we’d like the Government to help us by catching up with Europe and bringing in the greener fuel directive.”

The site was a hive of industry yesterday but it’s still a race against time to make sure the country doesn’t go thirsty in what could be England’s finest hour.

But British Beer and Pub association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said drinkers shouldn’t worry. She said: “Our message is clear: keep calm and carry on going to the pub. If your usual beer of choice isn’t ­available, why not try something new?”

Real Music
Reply Fri 6 Jul, 2018 12:05 pm
Paul Hogan as "Superdag" Laughing
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Reply Thu 2 Aug, 2018 04:10 am
izzythepush wrote:

For all the talk of rationing I've not seen any.

Have seen some shortages of soft drinks, shops will run out of some brands or canned soft drinks but there's always another brand or 2l plastic bottles available, and the shortage only lasts for a day.

(Some of this could be attributed to the uncharacteristically long hot dry summer we're having.)
Reply Thu 2 Aug, 2018 07:49 am
Did I see this correctly...that London hit 40 deg C recently?
Reply Thu 2 Aug, 2018 08:17 am
Probably, it has been very hot recently, apparently today is breaking records in mainland Europe. (I don't tend to look at degrees, I just know when I feel hot, sorry for not being much help.)
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Sat 1 Sep, 2018 01:02 pm
Sounds like the cost of beer is going upwards.
Reply Sat 1 Sep, 2018 01:05 pm
@cicerone imposter,
I think the CO2 shortage is over, it wasn't that much to begin with.
Reply Sat 1 Sep, 2018 01:21 pm
Tryin' to turn this into another endless climate change thing? I'm onto you.
0 Replies

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