A summit of representatives from the UK’s food supply chain has called for urgent action from the government to reinstate vital food-grade carbon dioxide supplies by bringing UK fertiliser plants back on stream.
Commenting on the summit, NFU president Minette Batters said: “While it’s good to hear there may be an agreement in principle that production at the fertiliser factories may restart, with resulting CO2 supplies, it’s important this restart is meaningful and sustained. Users of carbon dioxide were given little to no warning that supplies were going to be cut off – an indication of market failure in a sector supporting our critical national infrastructure. Urgent clarity is needed on the detail, including timings and volumes established in the agreement.”
Carbon dioxide is critically important in the food industry and is used in many processes, including:
- Protecting animal welfare in processing.
- Avoiding knock on impacts on farm.
- Maitinaing production glasshouse fruit and vegetables to avoid mothballing production.
Mrs Batters added: “The UK food supply chain has so far done a fantastic job keeping our shelves full but these past few days have highlighted starkly the fragility in the supply chain. It is something government must not take for granted and I want us to use this moment to ensure we all understand what’s at stake.
“Last week at Back British Farming Day we repeated our ask for the government to place the same value on British food and its production standards as the British people do. We are currently 60% self-sufficient in food and our current situation demonstrates the need for strategic policies that bolster domestic food production. Food shortages are a clear and present danger which ministers must work urgently with the whole supply chain to avoid.
“I want to work with the government and the rest of the UK supply chain to learn the lessons from what we have seen this week to not only maintain our domestic food production but to have an ambition for growth and safeguard Britain’s food security.”