OPINIONCPG

Carbonated Beverages Have a Problem

COVID-19 has raised costs of CO2 used in food production

The Lempert Report

Reuters reported that ethanol production has decreased in the United States, with 34 out of 45 plants affected by the current changes due to COVID-19.

As the production of ethanol plants decreases due to the fact that less of us are driving, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they capture as a byproduct and resell is obviously also on the decrease. What does this have to do with our food supply?

Ethanol plants resell the carbon dioxide byproduct to manufacturers, and the companies that buy it are seeing higher prices. Beer brewers are paying 25% more for carbon dioxide now. The shortage of carbon dioxide is also affecting soda, seltzer and other parts of our food supply. CO2 is used to change the atmosphere that food is packaged in to extend the shelf life of fresh meat and salads. CO2 is also used to soften hard water that is filled with minerals. 

A coalition has been formed, which includes the Compressed Gas Association, National Pork Producers Council, Beer Institute, Brewers Association, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Renewable Fuels Association to try to reverse the situation, and is asking the federal government to provide financial incentives to the plants in order to continue to make carbon dioxide. But if it’s a byproduct of ethanol, doesn’t that mean they’ll have to produce ethanol?

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