The American beer industry is currently worried about tariffs impacting aluminum can prices for its products, but brewers and other industries in the UK currently have their own problem.
The beer industry overseas is currently facing a shortage of carbon dioxide, and at least one wholesaler is rationing beer as a precautionary measure. CNN reported on Wednesday that Booker is limiting bars and grocers to 10 cases, or 300 cans, of beer per brand a day. The problem is that the UK is experiencing a shortage of carbon dioxide to carbonate the beverages, leaving brewers in the lurch.
If you don’t know how carbon dioxide is made for food products, it might sound a bit gross. CO2 in the UK is made as a byproduct of ammonia production, which is used to make fertilizer. The problem is that several ammonia and fertilizer production plants are currently shut down, which means a shortage of CO2.
CNN reports that the UK has a single ammonia manufacturer, and food and drink industry experts expect the shortage to last “a few more weeks at least.” Some beer companies are even warning customers that their beer might not be available in large quantities, though no one is panicking quite yet.
Heineken (HEINY) warned last week that kegs from some brands, including Amstel, may not be available in Britain.
“We’d like to reassure beer drinkers that all our breweries are operating at full capacity, and we’re working 24/7 to get beers to our customers as quickly as possible,” a company spokesperson said Wednesday.
The problem isn’t just for brewers, but also soda manufacturers and other industries that use carbon dioxide in various ways. Animals are often stunned with carbon dioxide before they’re killed, which means the meatpacking industry could be impacted as well. Carbon dioxide is also used to make dry ice, package food like salads and keep other products fresh. So it turns out fertilizer is the start of not just growing plants, but keeping a variety of finished food products, including beer, on shelves and into the hands of consumers.
There’s no word on a shortage of carbon dioxide on this side of the pond, but it’s definitely a scary thought for drinkers anywhere that a few plants shutting down might mean a shortage of kegs anywhere.