Meat shortage to hit Britain ‘in days’ as pork and chicken vanish from shelves

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Britain will be hit by a meat shortage within days, store bosses have warned.

Supermarket shelves will be stripped of pork, beef and poultry, chicken madras will be off the menu in Britain's curry houses and turkey will be missing from Christmas dinner tables across the land.

It is not just meat supplies that will be hit by the CO2 shortage.

Fizzy drinks, cheese and fruit and veg are all at risk of running out, the boss of food giant Iceland warned.

Britain is in the grip of an energy crisis with soaring wholesale gas prices – up 70% since last month – leading to CF Fertilisers stopping 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 to stun animals for slaughter, package meat and refrigeration systems.

It is also deployed in items such as fizzy drinks, beer, cheese, fruit and vegetables and crumpets.

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.

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"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 of this comes as we are working 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.

"The problem is that as a supermarket industry we can't just pile up stock. There is only so much we can do.''

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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.

"We're two weeks away from seeing some real impacts 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: "We're facing a really dark day. If we get to a point that we have to euthanise pigs on farm simply because they can't then get butchered that would be devastating.''

The British Poultry Council warned the crisis would bite this week if gas shortages were not addressed and millions of birds would have to be culled.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, warned the gas shortage will affect the supply of turkeys for Christmas.

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"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.

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MoneySaving Expert Martin Lewis said many people could be forced to choose between heating and eating as energy bills rise.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to hold more discussions with the energy industry amid calls for bailouts.

Five energy suppliers have gone bust recently. Others are reportedly on the brink.

Tory MPs have joined energy firms in demanding Boris Johnson scraps or suspends green levies on consumer bills.

But the PM, who is at the United Nations general assembly in New York, tried to quell rising panic insisting the problems should 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".

  • Food
  • Asda
  • Greggs
  • Boris Johnson
  • Martin Lewis
  • Neighbours
  • Space
  • Animals
  • Christmas

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