THE UK government has struck a new deal with CF Fertilisers that will ensure poultry processors continue to have a supply of CO2 gas, essential for humanely stunning birds before slaughter.

Rising global gas prices led to CF Fertilisers shutting down production at its two UK fertiliser production plants last Autumn, which produced CO2 gas as a by-product.

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After a “multi-million-pound” government intervention that secured production for three weeks, industry struck a three-month supply agreement, and the firm started up production again.

That agreement expired at the end of January, and the British Poultry Council (BPC) had warned that, without renewal, poultry processing could once again be threatened.

A spokesman for the business department said: “The carbon dioxide (CO2) industry has come to an agreement to ensure UK businesses have access to a sustainable supply of CO2 – an essential component of the national economy.

CO2 supplies

“The deal will enable CF Fertilisers’ Billingham plant to continue to operate while global gas prices remain high.

It means key sectors, including food processing and nuclear power, are ensured supplies of CO2.

“The government welcomes industry’s agreement which is in the best interests of businesses.

“In the longer term, the government would like to see the market take measures to improve resilience, and we are engaging on ways this could happen.

Food inflation

BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths added: “The announcement of an agreement to ensure supplies of CO2 for industries like our own is a good thing.

“The last thing Britain’s food producers need right now, against a backdrop of high energy prices and food inflation, is more pressure.

“CO2 must be considered something that is in the ‘national interest,’ and we have been working closely with government to avoid disruption in this area of our supply chain.

“This agreement will enable the Billingham plant to operate as we, along with other sectors, navigate this tricky period of high energy prices and food inflation.

“We look forward to continuing our work with key Government departments and officials to ensure resilience is built up in this area.”.