Not-so-perfect timing: Why is beer currently being rationed throughout the United Kingdom?
Fizzy drinks are in short supply in the U.K. thanks to a monumental shortage of food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2). And the timing could hardly be worse. With the World Cup soccer tournament in full swing amid the sweltering heat of summer, demand for carbonated drinks is soaring.
Booker, the U.K.’s largest food wholesaler, has resorted to rationing beer, cider and soft drinks, The Guardian reports. And Ei Group, the country’s leading pub group, is experiencing shortfalls of certain brands such as John Smith’s and Strongbow cider (both produced by Heineken), according to the BBC.
Booker supplies bars, restaurant chains and legions of convenience stores. It has reportedly been forced to limit purchases to 10 cases of beer or soft drinks and five cases of cider per customer.
“Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer,” a spokesperson for the wholesaler told The Guardian. “We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimize the impact for our customers and to optimize availability with the stock that is available. Therefore, we cannot comment further at this stage.”
According to The Drinks Business, the CO2 shortage is occurring because of “the ‘usual’ turnaround of maintenance procedures in ammonia plants”. While the planned shutdown is affecting availability across Europe, the U.K. is the “hardest hit” due to the fact that there is only one plant in operation.
Heineken has alerted British pubs to the likelihood of “major shortages” of brands including Amstel, and Coca-Cola has “temporarily paused” some production, CNBC reports. The CO2 shortage is also affecting food producers, as its critical to the meat packaging process.
“The shortage of CO2 across Northern Europe is impacting a wide range of businesses across the food and drink sector,” a British Soft Drinks Association spokesperson reportedly said.