beer and C02 shortage

CO2 Shortage Impacting Food and Drink Supplies

Northern Europe is facing a carbon dioxide (CO2) shortage, which is affecting beer, carbonated soft drinks plus many more food and drink items. The UK has predominantly been affected by the shortage, which has forced many manufacturers to halt their production.

British baking firm, Warburtons have stopped the production of crumpets at two of its four sites, due to the company experiencing shortfalls of CO2. The company depends on food grade CO2 as its used in the packaging to keep the crumpets fresh and extend their shelf life.

beer production and reducing CO2 shortage

Rationing Fizzy Drinks and Beer

Large pub chain Wetherspoons also announced that some of its pubs were affected by the shortage and had temporarily run out or were in short supply of draught lager. Coca-Cola has also halted production of some lines; however, the company insists that supply has not been affected and that orders will still be fulfilled.

In a bid to combat the shortage, some supermarkets have started rationing the number of fizzy drinks and beers that customers can buy online. Food wholesaler Booker is also limiting customers to 10 cases of beer or five cases of cider or fizzy drinks per purchase due to the shortage.

Why is the Demand for CO2 High?

But, why is demand for CO2 so high? As well as keeping food fresh, CO2 is responsible for the fizz in many beverages.

In beer production, although CO2 is a by-product from the fermentation process and can be captured to give the beer natural carbonation. However, CO2 is also needed to purge the lines to remove oxygen from the line and to create pressure in kegs so that beer is forced out of the containers. Without CO2, the beer oxidises and is ruined, which can cause serious problems for manufacturers.

So why is the shortage happening in the first place?

Why is the Shortage Happening?

Like every year, the ammonia plants in Europe that produce CO2 have shut down for planned summer maintenance. However, this year more plants have closed than usual. At the same time, bioethanol plants, which are another key source of CO2, have also shut down for maintenance. This has left the UK with limited options and only one CO2 producer in operation.

The shortage couldn’t have come at a worse time, as there’s been a surge in demand for alcoholic and fizzy beverages due to the world cup coinciding with the recent run of hot weather. So, with the CO2 shortage set to continue into the next few weeks, what can drink manufacturers do about it?

Many soft drinks and beer manufacturers have liquid product recovery (‘pigging’) systems in operation, which eliminates the need to charge product lines with CO2 in order to prevent oxygenation. Because pigging reduces the use of CO2, this will lessen the impact of the shortage.

How Does Pigging Help with CO2?

If your company processes carbonated soft drinks or beer, and do not have a pigging system, then HPS can help you!

As previously mentioned, many beverage manufacturers will purge the lines with CO2 to remove oxygen from the line, before they transfer the product from storage to the filler.

Double-pig pigging systems send a specialist projectile (a ‘pig’) from the filler down to the product pump outlet, which pushes out all of the oxygen from the line.

The pig acts as an interface between the product and oxygen and so prevents oxygen from coming into contact with the product. In this way, pigging prevents the need to charge lines with CO2.

Efficiency Improvements by Pigging

As well as eliminating the need to purge lines with CO2, HPS also work with many beverage manufacturers to increase their product yields, improve their operating efficiency and reduce contamination risks.

Because HPS systems recover practically all of the product from the line that would otherwise go to waste, they deliver a high return on investment (ROI). In most cases, payback is less than 12 months (often sooner). To find out how much a pigging system can save you, take a look at our Pigging Systems Saving Calculator.carbonated drinks CO2 shortage

Pigging Improves Environmental Sustainability

Because the hygienic, bi-directional pig removes most of the product, this makes cleaning a lot easier. At the same time, water consumption is also minimised, as the time-consuming requirement to flush out the residual liquid remaining in the pipelines with water is reduced.

Because pigging saves water, resources and energy, it has a positive impact on the environment and helps companies towards their sustainability targets. Here’s more on how pigging systems help the environment.

Bring the Benefits of Pigging to Your Business

Pigging systems offer a wide range of benefits. So, if your company processes liquids or ‘wet’ product and you would like to bring these benefits to your business, then please get in touch.

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