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Christmas is safe despite crisis promises Environment Secretary George Eustice

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Christmas is safe despite crisis promises Environment Secretary George Eustice

Source - Wales Online

by - Max Channon

Date -  22-09-2021

A Government Minister has vowed that 'Christmas is safe', despite reports supermarket shelves could be empty within ten days due to the ongoing carbon dioxide crisis.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said the deal to safeguard CO2 supplies would help ensure “Christmas is safe” although the food industry still faced problems.

Poultry industry figures had warned that supplies of turkeys could be hit by a shortage of CO2.

Mr Eustice told LBC Radio: “Christmas is safe, of course. But there are challenges in the food supply chain, I’m not denying that.

“The lack of labour availability, pressures on logistics – all of these are causing some stresses.

“It does mean that in some areas the degree of choice in some supermarkets is down slightly on what it would normally be.

“But we are working with the industry to make sure that we get all the food that we need on the shelf for those all-important weeks running up to Christmas.”

Mr Eustice defended the use of “many millions” of pounds of taxpayers’ money being used to prop up US-owned CF Fertilisers.

The Environment Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “It will go to ensuring that two critical plants that produce carbon dioxide which is critical to our food supply chain continue to operate and therefore sectors like the poultry sector, meat processors in poultry and pigs, can get access to the carbon dioxide they need.

“The reason, sometimes, it is justified for the Government to intervene in this way, in a very short-term, targeted way, is that if we didn’t, there would be a risk to our food supply chain – that’s not a risk the Government is willing to take.”

He also said that an increase in the price of carbon dioxide would not have a “major impact on food prices” because it was only a “tiny proportion” of overall costs.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today the rising price of CO2 would help maintain production once the state support for CF Fertilisers ends.

“The critical thing was to get production up and running expeditiously, that’s why we have needed this Government intervention,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

“But we have had meetings with the food industry, they all recognise that the price of carbon dioxide is going to increase substantially.

“And when that price increases then the market signal will be there for these plants to continue producing.”

It comes as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps updated MPs on the HGV driver shortage - another crisis which is stretching supermaket supply lines to breaking point.

He told the MPs that the situation is improving “week by week” - and said that the issue was "absolutely global" in nature.

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