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NZ beer may get expensive after liquid carbon dioxide plant shuts

(Source: Bigstock)

New Zealand company Todd Energy has temporarily shut its Kapuni plant – the country’s only dedicated producer of food-grade liquid carbon dioxide – citing safety concerns.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a gas used in fizzy soft drinks and alcoholic drinks as well as in the packaging of meat products.

“It was necessary to shut the plant to enable the issue to be clearly defined and to complete any resulting rectification work,” Mark Macfarlane, Todd Energy CEO, told Radio New Zealand. “The safe operation of the plant is our priority.”

Although no specific dates have been shared for the plant’s resumption, the temporary closure of the plant has fuelled concern among food and beverage manufacturers in the country.

Belinda Milnes, a spokeswoman for the NZ Beverage Council, said CO2 is a “very difficult product to import” to supplement domestic production. This is believed to be due to the volumes required.

“This latest decrease in supply with the plant going off temporarily is a real worry for us because it’s so tight already.”

Last March, the Marsden Point refinery – New Zealand’s only onshore oil refinery – was decommissioned leaving Kapuni as the sole domestic liquid CO2 supplier.

Taranaki Chamber of Commerce CEO, Arun Chaudhari, said there had been “consistent demand” for the Kapuni CO2 for years.

“With the shutdown at Todd Energy, you can see the vacuum – the longer it continues, the bigger the problem gets for these industries.”

Inside FMCG has reached out to Todd Energy and the Brewers Association of New Zealand for comment. The article will be updated accordingly.

If the production of beverages has to be suspended for an extended period as a result of the problem at Todd Energy, it is likely food companies will have to import ready-made beverages to replace local lines, most likely from across the Tasman, which would add to overheads, potentially increasing purchase prices.

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