Global Data said modified atmosphere packaging has long been used by the chilled food industry to preserve product freshness, quality and appearance.
However, according to the data and analytics company’s fourth quarter 2017 global consumer survey, after convenience, UK consumers consider quality and freshness to be the key benefits of chilled foods.
If the food industry cannot deliver on this as a result of the CO2 shortage, there is a good chance consumers will their change preference to frozen products.
British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths told The Morning Advertiser: “I am not saying the country is going to lose 50% to 60% of production overnight but there will be severe impacts on the production of chicken and that will affect foodservice and pubs.
“We are trying to get the industry prioritised for what CO2 supplies there are out there. We are working on alternatives and working with the Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs as well as other Government departments to try to keep the food supply chain moving but, ultimately, it depends on whether there is any gas out there to be had.
“That is what no one seems to be able to tell us at the moment. For [pubs] as much as it is for poultry producers, we are thrust into this situation, which is not of our own making and we are really nervous. It’s a period of 'wait and see' if there are the supplies out there.”
Raw red meat for example, will quickly turn a brown colour if not packaged in an atmosphere pumped with a mixture of gases including oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide.
Global Data senior consumer analyst Melanie Felgate said: “Frozen food has the advantage of being perceived as more convenient and better value for money than chilled foods.
“If the chilled food industry cannot offer the freshness or quality expected, [operators] are highly likely to opt for frozen products due to price and convenience advantages.”
However, the CO2 crisis has the potential to become the turning point in a long-term shift in consumer purchasing behaviour.