Britain's CO2 shortage not a threat to fizzy drinks

By Chris Mercer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Carbon dioxide, British soft drinks association

Britain's soft drinks industry has played down concerns that the UK
is facing a shortage of carbon dioxide, the essential bubble maker
in fizzy drinks from Coke to cider.

Richard Laming, spokesperson for the British Soft Drinks Association, said "no members have reported any difficulties. There is no shortage of bubbles at the moment"​.

Concerns emerged last week that British drinks firms were facing severe shortages of beverage grade carbon dioxide (CO2), after an explosion in June knocked out one of the country's biggest CO2 production facilities at Terra Nitrogen's factory in Billingham, northern England.

Carbon dioxide is essential in creating all kinds of fizzy drinks. It is dissolved into drinks formulas so that when a bottle or can is opened the escaping CO2 gas forms bubbles.

Irish drinks group C&C, which recently launched its Magners' cider brand in the UK, said last week CO2 had been in short supply across Britain and Ireland since late June. The firm said this had caused "some disruption to the supply of both soft drinks and cider"​, although it did not expect the problem to damage full-year results.

The firm was thought to be sourcing emergency CO2 supplies from abroad.

The comments from the British Soft Drinks Association suggest the shortage has not affected the drinks industry as much as some had feared, however.

A spokesperson for the bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises said the group had lots of contingency plans in place to ensure a constant CO2 supply was maintained.

Terra Nitrogen said it hoped to have its factory back on-line towards the end of July. The plant is one of the UK's biggest sources of ammonia, of which CO2 is also produced as a by-product.

A Terra spokesperson said the firm had ordered new piping and equipment to repair the factory. The work would take time, however, because the specialist equipment needed was hard to get hold of and the firm was also helping the government's Health and Safety Executive investigate the incident.

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