Industry experts are warning that supermarket shelves could be empty of British meat within “10 days.”
The UK supply chain has been hit by soaring gas prices which is used for cooling systems used in refrigeration, and it also helps to extend the shelf life of meat.
Nick Allen, the chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association that factories closed “at very short notice, with no warning,” which has left manufacturers with only between five and 15 days supply of CO2.
Allen told Sky News that when the CO2 runs out that abattoirs will be forced to stop which means farmers will have to keep their live stock or kill them thereselves.
Abattoirs also use CO2 to stun animals before slaughter, but are running short of supply due to soaring energy costs and some suppliers of gas having halted production.
Allen warned, “They will have to stop. That means animals will have to stay on farm.
“That will cause farmers huge animal welfare problems and British pork and British poultry will disappear off the shelves.
“We’re two weeks away from seeing some real impact on the shelves.”
The chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation Ian wright told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the shortages of CO2 supply is a “real crisis.”
He added, “The just-in-time system which underpins both supermarkets and hospitality industry is under the most strain it has ever been in the 40-years it has been there.”
Wright warned, “We probably have about 10 days before this gets to the point where consumers, shoppers and diners notice that those products are not available.”
The owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, Ranjit Singh Boparan said, “There are less than 100 days left until Christmas and Bernard Matthews and my other poultry businesses are working harder than ever before to try and recruit people to maintain food supplies.
“Nothing has fundamentally changed since I spoke about this issue in July.
“In fact, I take no pleasure in pointing out that the gaps on the shelves I warned about then are getting bigger by the day.”
A Defra spokesman said, “We are aware of the issues faced by some businesses and are working closely with industry to provide support and advice.
“We have had extensive meetings with representatives from the meat production and processing sectors, and we are continuing those conversations over the weekend.
“The UK benefits from having access to highly diverse sources of gas supply to ensure households, businesses and heavy industry get the energy they need at a fair price.
“Our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”