As fears over a looming carbon dioxide (CO2) crisis begin to abate, the British meat industry has realised that measures will have to be taken to ensure the future stability of UK CO2 supply and pricing.

Following the closure of fertiliser plants across the UK due to an industrial CO2 supply shortage, consumers were made aware of the knock-on impact that such a shortage could have on other sectors such as meat production.

With the gas used across the entire meat supply chain from slaughter to packaging, transport and delivery, the industry, along with the UK Government, will have to engage in ‘complex discussions’ on how to re-negotiate and restructure CO2 supply and pricing in the UK, according to the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA).

Yesterday’s (Tuesday) announcement that the Government has secured a deal with CF Industries to reopen one of their fertiliser plants will see meat producers continuing operations beyond next week.

Despite resumption being good news for industry, the BMPA stated that a market-based solution will ‘likely’ involve longer-term higher prices for CO2, which it realises will be sustainable for some but not for others.

Due to the gas being an international commodity traded between nations, any considered solution will have to take into account the potential for a price distortion in other markets.

Conversely, such a revaluation of the CO2 market and price structure could also prompt new players to enter the market, which could be a positive result in a ‘consolidated’ market where sectors such as food and drink, nuclear and health rely on a very small number of very large suppliers.

“There are a number of companies that produce CO2 as a by-product but as yet don’t capture and sell it,” said Nick Allen, CEO, BMPA.

He continued, saying, “A significant price rise may make this viable and also dissipate the effect of consolidation in the industry.”

The BMPA is current focusing on re-establishing supplies before Friday (September 24th), when around 25% of UK pork production was in danger of shutting down.

With CF Industries’ Billingham fertiliser plant set to get back up and running within the next few days, the BMPA aims to then look at the ‘re-shaping’ of the market, which will include identifying and fixing weaknesses within the supply chain.

It’s possible that weaknesses could be addressed, at least partially, through the use of biogenic solutions such as those proposed by Carbonic Solutions’ Director Christopher Carson in a webinar held by gasworld last month (August). 

During the webinar, Carson suggested that CO2 emissions produced from sectors such as manure management processes, landfills, and feedstock manufacture could play an important role in the future.

More information about biogenic CO2 and its potential as an energy source is available here.