The fragility of food supply chains is becoming increasingly clear. Panic set in for the pig and poultry sectors this week as the risk of running out of CO2 gas became very real. It is a by-product of fertiliser manufacture, which ceased at a number of major producers recently due to the rapidly increasing cost of natural gas. In the UK, where two major fertiliser manufacturers operate, the cost has increased more than five times in the past year and the owners made the decision to suspend production. An agreement to resume production was reached this week after an intervention by the UK government, suggesting a financial incentive was put in place to offset higher costs.
Anne Finnegan explores the increased cost of gas in this week's edition and Siobhán Walsh examines the impact on escalating fertiliser costs. Surging fertiliser costs over the past year have attracted little attention outside farming circles but when the prospect of even more empty shelves in the UK emerged with no fizzy drinks, poultry and pigmeat products, the issue quickly became real.