THE British Poultry Council (BPC) has said it expects carbon dioxide (CO2) supplies to return to normal levels in the coming weeks following a shortage that threatened to derail poultry production.

It is another blow for processors, who are tackling record labour shortages driven by Brexit and the need for workers to self-isolate because of coronavirus.

See also: How the National Food Strategy report could influence the poultry sector

The gas is used in most large processing sites to stun birds before slaughter humanely.

In 2018 a significant shortage threatened poultry production, as well as beer and fizzy drink manufacturing. The cause was an ammonia production issue coupled with scheduled plant shutdowns for maintenance.

This year, the BPC’s chief executive Richard Griffiths said members had been experiencing a tight supply and taking it ‘one day at a time’ – but that the expectation was that supplies would soon get back to normal.

Prioritise processing

“The British Poultry Council has been working closely with Defra, BEIS and gas suppliers to ensure that food livestock sectors have been prioritised to mitigate any risk to both bird welfare and consistency of food supply in this country.

“We still urge gas suppliers to prioritise for slaughter and processing purposes to avoid the threat of these issues.

“This, on top of Brexit issues our members are continuing to juggle, has amplified the challenges the British poultry meat sector has had to face over the first half of the year.

“From our people to our gas supply, British food supply chains are inherently multinational.

“While we are producing food here in the UK, crucial elements of food production rely on our relationships with international partners. Government must acknowledge this for the purposes of ensuring sustainable food security going forward.”