THE Europe-wide carbon dioxide shortage is to affect UK supermarket supplies over the next few days, the Food and Drink Federation has warned.

CO2 is used to stun farm animals, put fizz in carbonated drinks and is used in packaging, but is in short supply.

Food and Drink Federation (FDF) chief executive Ian Wright said carbon dioxide supplies were not expected to resume until next week.

Wright told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We will see fewer chicken dishes, fewer pork and bacon dishes.

“We’ll see probably less carbonated drinks and certainly bakery and other things that benefit from what’s called modified atmosphere packaging, which is plastic packaging with a tray underneath and a dish of food in them.”

Wright said that even if supplies of CO2 resumed next week, it would take some time before it made its way to food and drink producers.

“Inventories of products have been eroded quite a lot over the last week and not many people keep very large stocks of products because it is not cost-efficient,” he explained.

Quality Pork Limited, which operates Scotland’s biggest abattoir at Brechin, is closed and other meat producers are considering changes to use less CO2.

Andy McGowan, chief executive of the Scottish Pork Producers co-operative, said he had heard that supplies of CO2 could restart next week, and that Brechin might receive gas in the second half.

Abattoirs use CO2 as part of a pre-slaughter stunning process.

To avoid overcrowding, Quality Pork had sent 2000 pigs to the meat processor Tulip in England, while 4000 remained in Scotland.

About 6000 pigs pass through Brechin every week.

Meanwhile, Warburtons has said it is working “really hard” to keep products on shelves, but admitted it is making “nowhere near” its usual amount of crumpets.

Just one of its plants – at Eastwood in Nottinghamshire – has been operating normally, it said.

Two others – in Enfield, London, and Burnley, Lancashire – are not producing any goods, while its Stockton-on-Tees branch has received a small supply of CO2 after being offline for days.

Tearmh Taylor, corporate and consumer affairs manager at Warburtons, said: “As a result of the ongoing CO2 shortage, we are producing nowhere near the 1.5 million packs of crumpets we usually make each week and have had to suspend production at a number of our bakeries.

“This will remain the case until the CO2 supply returns to normal, but rest assured we are working really hard to keep our products on Britain’s shelves.”

The shortages are understood to have been caused by a longer than usual break in production of ammonia – one of the key sources of food grade CO2 in Europe – which is used to carbonate drinks and preserve some packed fresh foods.

Trade journal Gas World said the shortage had been described as the “worst supply situation to hit the European carbon dioxide business in decades”.

A spokeswoman for the British Retail Consortium said CO2 supply issues remained and it was likely the “mix of products available may be affected”.

It comes as some pub chains reported they had temporarily run out or were short of John Smith’s, Strongbow, Amstel and Birra Moretti as disruption to supplies of CO2 began to take effect at the bar.