Iceland’s boss has urged experts to forget about Christmas food shortages because supplies will run low in the coming “days and weeks”.
Although poultry producers have claimed that Britain’s CO2 crisis could “cancel Christmas”, Richard Walker said the supply chain could be crippled much earlier.
“This is no longer about whether or not Christmas will be okay,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It’s about keeping the wheels turning and the lights on so we can actually get to Christmas.
“This could become a problem over the coming days and weeks… not an issue that’s months away.”
Around 60 per cent of the UK’s CO2 was wiped out last week when record energy prices prompted two US-owned fertiliser plants to shut down.
The gas is widely used for stunning animals before slaughter and packing meat, as well as in fizzy drinks.
Walker said Iceland was building up its stocks on products like frozen meat, “just to make sure we can deal with any unforeseen issues”.
He added: “At the moment, we’re fully stocked because suppliers are OK but we do need this sorted as quickly as possible.”
One supermarket head told the Financial Times that the situation varied between different suppliers.
Some are thought to have weeks’ worth of CO2, while others are down to their “last few days”.
Ministers are in talks with CF Industries, the multinational which owns the two fertiliser plants, about reopening.
If production started this week, one expert said that “shoppers wouldn’t notice much, though there will be some gaps on shelves”.