Cost of living crisis: Cost of groceries could skyrocket by £1.7bn over carbon dioxide price surge

The food and drink system could be brought ‘to its knees’ by the price surge

The cost of groceries in the UK could skyrocket by a further £1.7bn with the cost of living crisis already propelling people into poverty, new research has revealed.

The latest rise is down to a price surge in carbon monoxide (CO2), which is used by the food and drinks industry to package food safely and add fizz to soft drinks and beer.

CO2 is also used in the slaughter of chickens and pigs, but the price of a liquid tonne is up to 3,000% higher than it was last year, according to new analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).

A customer shops for meat at a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

UK energy prices have soared in the last year, driven even higher by the Russia-Ukraine war.

This has led to problems for sectors reliant on carbon dioxide with production disrupted due to the inflation, say the ECIU.

Climate and land programme lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), Matt Williams said: “The UK’s reliance on fossil fuels affects more than just families’ energy bills. It could bring the food and drink system to its knees.

“Rising energy costs are creating an extra cost of hundreds of millions of pounds in the food and drink industry that customers may struggle to avoid.

“If high gas prices, or even blackouts, force factories to close it could create real problems for farmers and the food and drink industry.”

A woman holds a shopping basket of groceries.

Meanwhile, food and drinks firms are grappling with mammoth energy prices.

Businesses such as supermarkets, farms and pubs paid 71% more for gas in the first quarter of 2022 than in the same period in 2021.