A coalition led by the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), has submitted a letter to the US Vice-President Mike Pence expressing strong concern that the current coronavirus pandemic creates a significant risk of a shortage in carbon dioxide (CO2).
The coalition, which includes representatives from multiple food and beverage groups, has said that such a shortage would significantly impact access to essential food and beverage supplies as well as other essential sectors of the US economy.
CO2 is critical for the operations of food and beverage manufacturers that provide essential goods and services to the US. It is used in the processing, packaging, preservation, and shipping in many foods.
The letter, which was signed by leaders from the CGA, the North American Meat Institute, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Turkey Federation, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the Beer Institute, the Brewers Association, and the Renewable Fuels Association, has urged for immediate federal action to put manufacturing plants that support CO2 back into service during the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter reads, “The significant economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, as well as related global economic trends, has significantly affected overall demand and production of industrial manufacturing that leads to CO2 capture.”
“Many industrial manufacturers have already idled their plants due to diminished demand leading to a decrease in CO2 access for industrial gas suppliers. Thus, certain industrial gas companies have been forced to ration available CO2 products amongst essential business users, including food and beverage manufacturing plants.”
“Preliminary data shows that production of CO2 has decreased by approximately 20%, and experts predict that CO2 production may be reduced by 50% by mid-April unless action is taken to stabilize existing sources of CO2, prevent production sources who are indicating they will shut down from doing so, and reopen those sources that have halted production thus far.”
The letter also highlights the guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on 28th March 2020, which deemed food manufacture, including food processing and livestock production, beverage production, renewable fuel development, and chemical and industrial gas supply chains as “essential critical infrastructure.”
“Without stable sources of CO2 across the nation, these food and beverage manufacturers will be unable to operate the capacity, leading to shortages for Americans and the important goods they depend on, especially during the COVID-19 crisis,” the letter reads.
Speaking to CO2 Meter, Rich Gottwald, President and CEO of the CGA said, “Our goal in writing to the Vice-President Pence is to bring light to this critical issue and to work with the entire supply chain, including our members, to solve the approaching CO2 shortage.”
The full letter can be accessed here.