‘Sharp drop in CO2 supplies being viewed very seriously’ – MII

The “sudden and sharp drop” in CO2 supplies is being viewed “very seriously by the meat processing sector”, according to a statement released by Meat Industry Ireland (MII).

CO2 is used in a number of areas of meat processing and packaging, the statement added.

Continuing, it said: “At present, industry is working to manage supplies, to ensure a prioritisation of CO2 supply in order to maintain – as much as possible – normal processing throughout.

Avoiding disruption to normal pig and poultry processing is critical.

“Retail packing operations are looking at alternative packaging options in so far as they are possible, but this can mean reduced shelf life.

“We understand it will be a number of weeks before there is some normalisation of supply and in the meantime we are dependent on limited prioritised deliveries,” MII explained.

Welfare issues

Speaking to AgriLand, the chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) Pigs Committee, Thomas Hogan, outlined that CO2 is used in processing plants to stun pigs.

He indicated that the most significant worry at the moment is that limited supplies of CO2 could potentially lead to “welfare issues” on farms if processing capacity is negatively affected in plants.

“There seems to be a shortage in northern Europe. What happens in normal circumstances is that some of the ammonia plants that produce CO2 close down for a month or two for maintenance.

“What’s probably compounding the issue is the fine weather, because there’s probably a lot more soft-drinks and I suppose – with the world cup – beer being used.

The biggest worry would be at farm level, because if you can’t get pigs moved off-farm you’re going to have welfare issues.

“The immediate concern is to get supplies to primary processors, for fear that there would be disruptions,” Hogan concluded.