Warburtons cuts crumpet production by half as CO2 shortage continues to bite

In a new, and unusual, twist to the CO2 saga - crumpets are making headlines. Warburtons' crumpets production is now down 50%. The firm uses the gas in packaging, to give the product a longer shelf-life.

Tearmh Taylor, Warburtons' spokesperson, told me: "As a result of the ongoing CO2 shortage, we are producing nowhere near the 1.5 million packs of crumpets we usually make each week and have had to suspend production at a number of our bakeries. This will remain the case until the CO2 supply returns to normal."

This is the problem that has come out of thin air – literally. CO2 is used in a vast range of manufacturing, processing and packaging. Many of the factories that produce the gas are out of action for maintenance and repairs. During a normal summer you'd hardly have noticed - but this is far from a normal summer. The weather and the world cup means demand, especially for drinks, is peaking rapidly.

Today, two of Britain's biggest pub chains have updated us. Wetherspoon has shortages in a small number of pubs. The brands affected are: John Smiths, Strongbow and Strongbow Dark Fruits

Punch Taverns says things are improving, but with John Smith, Amstel and Bira Moretti there are "low stocks" in some of its outlets.

Ocado says some frozen foods remain unavailable due to a lack of dry ice, which requires CO2.

A lack of CO2 has also led to shortages of beer. Credit: PA

The Food Standards Agency has authorised the use on non-food grade CO2 for some applications, including in meat production where the gas is often used to stun livestock in slaughterhouses.

A leading distributor of CO2 has told ITV News that one large factory in the UK will start to produce on Monday and that extra supplies are being brought in.

However, it will take a while for this to work through the supply chain. There will be rationing to begin with, so the shortages we are seeing now are likely to continue and even get worse over the next few days. For crumpet consumers – a tense period ahead.