Britain is running out of beer

EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN

A man drinking a pint during a Save the Pub campaign at a pub in London.

Britain is running out of beer


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The UK is experiencing the wrong crisis at the wrong time, as pubs are running out of beer.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is running out.

While the World Cup unfolds and England is passing to the second round, the UK’s biggest pub chains have exhausted stocks in a range of popular beer and cider brands. The problem is compounded by contractual obligations to sell these specific brands.

Brands like Smith’s, Heineken and Strongbow have been affected. Wholesale distributors are trying to ration supply between their customers.

The shortage is caused by the simultaneous closure of factories in the UK and the Continent for maintenance work. The UK has been left with one factory alone, while Northern Europe is experiencing similar challenges.

The CO2 shortage is affecting a range of industries, from abattoirs that need it to stun animals before slaughter to the broader food industry that uses it as a preservative. Meat retailers are forced to shorten selling deadlines, creating considerable logistical hurdles.  Scotland’s biggest abattoir closed on Tuesday, just as barbeque season reaches its pick, with high temperatures and football gatherings.

Soft drinks are facing the same challenge, while supermarkets are having to disrupt the supply in a whole range of frozen goods. Even science laboratories and tourist venues are feeling the pressure due to the lack of dry ice.

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