Tulip says it is maintaining its supply chain in the face of CO2 shortages, which is forcing it to halt production at its Brechin plant.
But the country’s largest pork processor said the situation remains ‘fluid’ and that animal welfare remained its ‘number one priority’. But the company expressed frustration at the lack of information it was receiving from the gas sector.
In a statement Tulip said a shortage in food-grade carbon dioxide (CO2) is currently impacting businesses across the UK food and drink industry.
“Tulip uses CO2 for a number of purposes within the supply chain; to stun pigs during the slaughter process, which is the most humane method available, and it is mixed with nitrogen for use in packaging to help preserve products. We have been reviewing all options to minimise non-critical usage of CO2 and animal welfare remains our number one priority,” the statement said.
“We are currently monitoring the situation across our network. On the whole we are managing to maintain our supply chain albeit it remains very fluid. We are working closely with Government and other agencies to rectify the situation.”
The Brechin plant is run by Quality Pork Ltd (QPL) and Tulip said it was supporting it during the shortage of CO2.
“We are processing our last batch of pigs at our Brechin abattoir until we can secure a delivery of CO2. We have been granted temporary one-week derogation from Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) so our QMS-assured Scottish pigs can be processed at our Tulip site in Ashton. Pigmeat processed here would continue to carry the Specially Selected Pork logo, allowing us to maintain animal welfare and support the Scottish pig industry,” Tulip said.
“We are in daily contact with our supply partners but are extremely concerned (as is the rest of the industry) that very little, if any information is coming out of the gas sector about when this will be rectified. We’ve heard nothing about the cause of this issue or the solutions.
“We are keeping customers updated on a daily basis and thank them for their understanding during these exceptional circumstances.”
NFU Scotland has also issued a statement, warning that the CO2 shortage could have a ‘critical impact on the slaughter of pigs and poultry’.
NFUS pigs and poultry and animal health and welfare policy manager Penny Middleton, said: “The shortage of CO2 is having a critical impact on the slaughter of pigs and poultry, where gas stunning is the preferred method of slaughter for welfare reasons.
“The processing plant at Brechin has already announced that it will not be able to take any more pigs from today, a decision that will impact heavily on pig units reliant on being able to get pigs away. Any disruption to that flow can result in welfare issues and overcrowding.
“Given the expectation of animal welfare problems on pig and poultry units NFUS feels that it is vital that CO2 supplies are reserved and directed to those plants in need.”