CO2 is an essential component of food production. It is used to despatch poultry and to pack foods for extended shelf-life. Cooling systems that are used for refrigeration also require CO2. Because of 2 Sisters’ extensive chicken processing operation, which includes factories in Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, Mr Boparan has been known as the Chicken King.
He stated that there are only 100 days until Christmas, Animation Business Cards and Bernard Matthews and other poultry businesses are working harder to recruit people. Since July, nothing has changed fundamentally. It is not something I enjoy pointing out that shelves are becoming smaller than I predicted when I spoke about this issue in July.
All over the UK, you can find ready-to-eat chicken kings, turkey, and other poultry kings
CE Industries made a commercial decision to stop fertiliser production at two UK plants at Stockton-on-Tees and Ince, Cheshire. CO2 is the main byproduct. This means that food processing and production plants owned and operated by Mr Boparan won’t be able to produce at normal levels. This will result in less chicken king, turkey and ready-to-eat meals in the UK.
Boparan said: “When poultry can’t be processed, it means that they must be kept in farms with potential implications for animal welfare. So the overall effect is welfare compromised as well as a greatly reduced supply. Ready-to-eat meals lose their vital shelf life. Food waste can be huge.
It is truly unbelievable that such an important infrastructure operation could decide arbitrarily to turn off the water taps due to price inflation. This is reckless and dangerous for our sector. Inflation is not something we can ignore. You have to get involved in your business and confront it head-on. It is impossible to give up and say that inflation is too high.
In July, Mr Boparan described the challenges his business faces and those of the wider food and retail industry, including Brexit-related shortages of labour, major commodity inflation, and the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He believes that Brexit has severely reduced the number of workers in the food industry. On average, 2 Sisters saw a 10% shortage of labour for its 16,000 employees this year. The majority work in ready-meal production and chicken king facilities.
Boparan said that he does not like to interfere in these matters and prefers to resolve them internally and quietly. Since 1992, I have not seen anything similar. Someone needs to speak up about this because it is causing importante irreparable damage to our industry.
It’s hard enough to have one hand tied behind your backs because there are not enough people to provide food. Both hands are tied by the addition of CO2 to this. The government must act immediately or another Christmas will be cancelled.