WREXHAM'S iconic lager brewery has just enough CO2 gas to continue production for three weeks.

A sharp rise in gas prices has meant two large fertiliser plants in Teeside and Cheshire – which produce CO2 as a by-product – had shut, cutting supply to the food industry.

This has created a "very serious" situation at Wrexham Lager where the gas is essential for the brewing process.

After receiving just a fraction of gas ordered, the town centre brewery was facing the prospect of having to halt production.

But, it has been reported this afternoon, that an agreement has been struck between the UK Government and fertiliser firm CF Industries in the hope of restarting production at its UK sites.

After just learning of the deal, Wrexham Lager's sales and operation manager Joss Roberts: "I'm ecstatic. I think I'll go and have a pint."

He said: "But it was a very serious situation. We had ways of making the supply we had last longer but we could only have kept going for three weeks.

"People drink their pint of lager in the pub but don't realise what goes on behind closed doors. We had received just a quarter of the CO2 that we had ordered and it was pot luck whether other orders were going to come through.

"It was very scary."

Earlier, the brewery tweeted: "60 per cent of the UK’s supply comes from only two sites who have decided to close due to profitability. We’re now faced with an unimaginable situation."

Wrexham Lager and 2 Sisters, which have chicken plants in Flintshire and Anglesey, are two local companies warning of the dire consequences of the carbon dioxide supply crisis.

Shoppers have been warned they will start noticing shortages within days as a result of the crisis in carbon dioxide (CO2) supply, a food industry chief has warned.

The gas is used in food packaging and as a method of stunning animals prior to slaughter but supplies are running low.

Spiralling energy costs have led to the suspension of operations at fertiliser plants – which produce CO2 as a by-product – having a knock-on effect on the food industry.

CO2 is injected into the packaging of perishable foods such as meat and salads to inhibit the growth of bacteria. It typically prolongs the shelf life of products such as beef steak by around five days.

The halt to CO2 production comes as supply chains are already grappling with a shortage of HGV delivery drivers.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, which has plants in Sandycroft and Langefni, says the gas shortage, combined with a shortage of workers, will affect the supply of turkeys for Christmas.

CO2 is essential to the humane slaughter of livestock, extends the shelf-life of products and is vital to cooling systems for refrigeration purposes, industry leaders have said.

Boparan said: “When poultry cannot be processed it means they must be kept on farms where there are potential implications for animal welfare, so the overall effect is welfare compromised and greatly reduced supply. Ready meals lose that vital shelf life. There is potential for massive food waste across the board.

“This is clearly a national security issue and unlike the labour supply crisis, where the Government response to our sector has been disappointing to say the least, it has to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.

“I’d like to see CO2 supplies prioritised for the food sector so UK supply can be maintained and for the Government to support these fertiliser plants who are saying they’ve switched off because of the rising price of natural gas.

“It really beggars belief when such a key infrastructure operation can arbitrarily decide to switch off the taps because of price inflation. It is irresponsible and catastrophic for our sector.

“We can’t just down tools because of inflation. In my businesses, you have to roll up your sleeves as best you can and tackle it head-on. Giving up and saying ‘inflation is too high’ is not an option.”

He added: “It’s tough enough having one hand tied behind our backs by simply not having enough people to supply food.

“With the CO2 on top of this, both hands are tied. Government need to act now or we’ll have another cancelled Christmas.”

“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.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng had meetings on Saturday with a number of industry leaders over the CO2 shortage.

He said on Twitter there is no “cause for immediate concern” over the supply of gas in the UK.

It has now been reported that the the UK Government has struck a deal with fertiliser firm CF Industries to restart production at its UK sites in an effort to ensure availability of carbon dioxide for industries including the food sector.

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