A carbon dioxide (CO2) shortage in Europe is threatening to affect beer productions during arguably the busiest time for beer drinkers — the FIFA World Cup.
Trade journal Gasworld says most food-grade CO2 comes from ammonia plants that manufacture fertilizer, which normally slow down production in the summer months.
But a perfect storm of factory closures across the continent, due to seasonal maintenance or repairs, has produced a record shortage of CO2. In Britain, only one plant remains open.
The shortage in Europe isn’t expected to affect Canada.
It couldn’t come at a worse time, as British soccer fans are expected to consume an extra 14 million pints of beer over the next two weeks thanks to the 2018 World Cup.
“Who’s going to watch the World Cup if there’s no beer?!” one fan in the U.K. told Global News.
“Obviously with the World Cup on, nobody wants to be running out with a pub full of hopefully happy England fans,” Pub owner Mark O’Neill said.
The British Beer and Pub Association says beer producers have already been impacted, and pubs and water will soon be affected.
“When we had this problem in 2015, we were able to buy our supplies from the continent. Unfortunately that’s not the case now, because the continent has also got shortages,” spokesperson Brigid Simmonds said.
Beer maker Heineken told the BBC it was “working with customers to minimize disruption.”
On Thursday, June 21, the British government set up an emergency committee with industry officials to discuss the shortage, which is affecting much more than pints
Along with other fizzy drinks like pop, the chicken industry is particularly concerned.
According to the British Poultry Council, 60 per cent of poultry processing plants could be facing a shortage “within days.”
The poultry industry uses CO2 while slaughtering chickens.
The BPC is asking the government to prioritize supplies to slaughterhouses to “keep the food chain moving.”
Beer shortage in World Cup
WATCH: Beer shortage plagues World Cup fans
The news also comes as reports that Moscow restaurants are being drunk dry in the midst of the World Cup.
“We just didn’t think they would only want beer,” said one waiter at a upscale eatery in central Moscow, who asked not to be identified for fear of scaring off future customers.
The waiter said his restaurant ran out of draft lager on Monday and deliveries are taking longer than usual, at least 24 hours, because suppliers’ stocks are also running low.
“There are really a lot of people in Moscow … and they are all drinking,” he said. “It’s hot, and it’s football.”
Beer sales in Russia have fallen by around a third over the past as duties have risen and rules been tightened on sales and advertising. Brewers had not been expecting a major reversal of the trend this year.
*With files from Reuters