Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon has called for an urgent meeting with the UK Government amid concerns of a shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Gougeon said a short-term deal with carbon dioxide manufacturer CF Fertilisers is drawing to a close with no future plan in place.
The MSP for Angus North and Mearns said there is concern over the impact of CO2 shortages on the country’s food and drink sector.
The gas is used in food packaging of perishable foods such as meat and salads to inhibit the growth of bacteria.
It typically prolongs the shelf life of products such as beef steak by about five days.
CO2 is also used in the stunning of animals before slaughter.
Gougeon said: “Carbon dioxide plays a key role in our economy and failure to secure adequate supplies will have a significant impact on our agriculture sector, wider food and drink manufacturing and also our hospitality industry.
“The failure of UK ministers to address meaningfully the crisis for Scotland’s food and drink industry is unacceptable.
“I am also concerned that, even if CO2 supplies are secured, increased costs will be incurred which will be passed on to other parts of the supply chain at a time when it is vulnerable to price fluctuations.
“That simply cannot happen – businesses cannot afford to absorb these costs, and should not have to, given this crisis is entirely UK-made.”
She is calling on the secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, George Eustice, to arrange an emergency meeting with the cabinet secretaries from the devolved nations to discuss supply concerns.
Gougeon added: “He needs to outline the UK Government’s plans to save Scotland and the UK’s food and drink industry from further harm, particularly to secure alternative CO2 supplies.
“Most importantly, he needs to come up with a plan to support businesses through this crisis.”