One of two shuttered fertiliser plants at Billingham in Teeside will restart operations after the UK government reached a short-term arrangement with its owner, US group CF Industries.
CF Fertilisers’ will receive 'limited financial support' for three weeks while the carbon dioxide market adapts to global gas prices.
The business had been forced to halt operations in the two sites as a resulting of soaring natural gas and wholesale energy prices.
The company produces around 60% of the UK’s CO2, which is primarily used by the food sector.
The gas is used to stun animals for slaughter, package meat and also in refrigeration systems. It is also used in fizzy drinks, beer, cheese, fruit and vegetables and crumpets, among other items.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the agreement would ensure the continued supply of CO2 to UK businesses.
“This agreement will ensure the many critical industries that rely on a stable supply of CO2 have the resources they require to avoid disruption. The quick and decisive action we have taken to resolve the issue shows the seriousness with which we have approached it.”
Yesterday the Food and Drink Federation warmed that UK pig and poultry production could collapse within a week and that the food sector was facing a fresh shortage of CO2 gas that could ‘dwarf’ the crisis that led to widespread food and drink shortages in 2018.
Ranjit Singh Boparan, who owns Bernard Matthews, 2 Sisters Food Group and the Boparan Restaurant Group, described CF Industries decision to stop production as ‘catastrophic’ and warned that Christmas ‘could be cancelled’.