C02 Shortage Threatens Wide Range of Kiwi Products

The availability of cheese, preserved meats, sparkling beverages and ready-to-eat meals could all suffer due to a shortage of carbon dioxide gas in New Zealand, with chicken producer, Tegel warning it may not be able to produce some products.

The Food and Grocery Council said price rises were also possible.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used widely in the food industry – including in packaging to preserve the shelf life of chicken – and to add fizz to drinks, as well as in other industries such as healthcare.

Recently, the Brewers Association and the Beverage Council separately voiced concerns about the gas shortage.

Businesses used to get much of their supply from the Marsden Point oil refinery, which produced CO2 as a by-product of its refining operation until that was closed at the end of March. Now the only remaining domestic source of liquid and other food-grade CO2 is a production plant attached to Todd Energy’s Kapuni gas field in Taranaki.

Todd Energy confirmed last week that production at the plant, which was built in 1969, had been reduced “with planned maintenance impacting production through to mid-August”. A Food and Grocery Council spokesman said the issues at Todd’s Kapuni plant were a concern, given it was now the only domestic source of food grade CO2 in the country.

Carbon dioxide can be imported, but Beverage Council spokesperson Emily Fuller has described that as an expensive option because of high freight costs and the fact the gas needs to be transported in heavy cannisters.