Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK energy and business secretary, promised MPs in Parliament on Monday afternoon that there is “no question of the lights going out” this winter as ministers struggle to contain a growing crisis sparked by spiralling gas prices.
He told the House of Commons it was “alarmist” to suggest people would struggle to heat their homes in the colder months and said Britain had “sufficient capacity” to meet household demand.
In the meantime supermarkets could face food shortages of meat and other fresh food by the end of within weeks after soaring gas prices prompted a major US fertiliser manufacturer to suspend production, turning off most of Britain’s supply of carbon dioxide to the food and drink industry in the process.
Food shortages ‘by end of week’ as CO2 crisis grows
The British Retail Consortium, which represents the major supermarket chains, said it expected to see food shortages by the end of the week, while pork suppliers warned of “farmageddon” within 10 days.
Pig farmers have threatened to slaughter animals on their land for render because of a growing backlog at abattoirs and processing plants due to the CO2 shortage.
The boss of Iceland said he expected supermarket shelves to begin to empty in the “coming days” as shortages of carbon dioxide, compounded by a lack of haulage drivers, hit the high street.
Richard Walker said: “This is no longer about whether or not Christmas will be OK – it’s about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas. This could become a problem over the coming days and weeks, so this is not an issue that’s months away.” …
The UK has been hit by a shortage as a consequence of the closure of two fertiliser plants, which manufactured the gas in vast quantities as a by-product. The plants, which made about 60 per cent of the UK’s carbon dioxide supply, ceased production after the spike in gas prices made them uneconomical to run.