Europe-wide CO2 shortage closes abattoir doors in Scotland

In the midst of a growing shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) across Europe, a Scottish abattoir has announced it will close after running out of the gas.

Quality Pork Limited (QPL) typically processes around 6,000 pigs a week at its site in Brechin, Angus.

The abattoir stopped taking animals yesterday afternoon (June 26) because it ran out of CO2.

It’s understood the site plans to send around a thousand pigs to its sister plant near Manchester – but other abattoirs also face shortages.

It’s an important site nationally as the QPL premises at Brechin are responsible for over 60% of the Scottish pig slaughter capacity.

Last year the abattoir had to send pigs to Northern Ireland following a fire at the plant.

What Caused The CO2 Shortage?

The shortage is thought to have been caused by the closing of several fertiliser plants – which produce the gas as a by-product – across Europe at the same time.

The first of the plants to close closed for maintenance reasons. However, it was followed by a failure at an ammonia plant in Billington and an unplanned shutdown at another plant in Norway.

The trade journal Gas World said it was the “worst supply situation to hit the European carbon dioxide business in decades”.

Already, Tesco-owned retailer Booker has said it will restrict beer sales because the gas is also used to put the fizz in beverages. Coca-Cola also said it “paused” production on Monday because of the shortage.

CO2 is also used in packaging products such as crisps, chopped lettuce, salad leaves, minced meat, cooked fish and pre-baked products.

It also used to produce dry ice which is used in the transport of frozen suppliers.

How severely this shortage could impact on Irish processors remains to be seen.