The warning comes as wholesaler Booker announced restrictions on the purchase of beer, cider and soft drinks at its stores, limiting them to 10 cases for lager and five cases for cider an soft drinks.
A Booker spokeswoman said: “Due to the international shortage of CO2, we are experiencing some supply issues on soft drinks and beer. We are currently working hard with our suppliers to minimise the impact for our customers.
“Where restrictions apply it is for 10 cases of a particular line so a customer can purchase 300 cans of Budweiser with 300 cans of Stella etc per branch per day.”
While the crisis appears to be worsening, John Raquet, CEO and founder of trade publication Gasworld, which first broke the news of the issue, told The Morning Advertiser (MA) the shortage would be affecting pubs at the bar.
‘Stop serving beer on tap’
“I heard that some fear pubs may have to stop serving beer on tap due to lack of CO2 pressure. However, we think this is more of a rarity than practice,” he said.
“The beer gas suppliers will either have their own store of cylinders and/or liquid. As these cylinders don’t take much product at a time they should have spare, but these will be running low.
“Essentially this week and last are the trough and supplies should start to rebound next week – however, there will be rationing until storage levels of liquid CO2 have been replenished.”
This is the worst CO2 shortage in 40 years, hitting northern Europe and the UK, resulting from the combined impact of a lack of producers in May and June, Raquet added.
Brewers and pubcos have commented on the situation, but given little detail on the impact to their businesses. Operators have highlighted issues with receiving stock from Heineken, including Amstel, John Smith’s Extra Smooth and Strongbow.
‘Reassure beer drinkers’
A Heineken spokesperson said: “We’d like to reassure beer drinkers that all our breweries are operating at full capacity, and we’re working 24/7 to get beers to our customers as quickly as possible.”
MA understands all of the brewer’s facilities are currently operational 24/7 to try and meeting demand, however, a time lag in the process of brewing, kegging and delivering should be expected.
A spokeswoman for Punch said the company was working closely with suppliers to ensure availability across its estate, providing alternative brands where possible.
“We remain in continued communication with our publicans, providing advice and support on how to manage any issues which may arise,” the spokeswoman added.
Meanwhile, the issue has not affected Greene King, a spokesperson claimed. “It remains business as usual for customers at our pubs and we look forward to continuing to serve millions of pints over the coming weeks of the World Cup.”