A huge shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2) has resulted in the beginning of beer rationing across Europe.
The shortage initially arose as a result of Europe’s large dependence on food-grade CO2 coming from major ammonia plants.
But with at least five gas producers in Northern Europe beginning a planned shutdown for maintenance, it’s feared that fizzy beer could face a shortage.
It’s believed that the UK has been the hardest hit by the closures, with only one major CO2 plant operating at present.
Now, Tesco-owned food wholesaler Booker has started to ration beer and cider supplies.
The food retailer, used by bars, restaurants and traders, is restricting customers to only 10 cases of beer and five of cider or soft drinks.
In a company statement, Booker said it had been forced to restrict beer and cider supplies as a result of an ‘international shortage’ of food-grade CO2.
A statement from Booker confirmed: ‘Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer.
‘We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact for our customers and cannot comment further at this stage.’
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UK pub chain Wetherspoons has also confirmed that it will be forced to pull a number of beers and carbonated beverages from its menu – while Coca Cola has ‘temporarily paused’ some production.
The crisis comes in the middle of the World Cup, where brits are expected to lap up thousands of pints every day.
Brigid Simmonds, head of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) which represents brewers and 20,000 UK pubs, said: ‘We are aware of a situation affecting the availability of CO2 across Europe, which has now started to impact beer producers in the UK.
‘We have recommended our members to continue to liaise with their providers directly where they have concerns over supply.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation carefully. However, given the time of year and the World Cup, this situation has arisen at an unfortunate time for the brewing industry.’