Minister Insists "No Immediate Concern" Over Gas Supplies

Sharma: “People should be confident that the supplies will be there."
COP26 President Alok Sharma
COP26 President Alok Sharma
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

A minister sought to quell fears over food shortages caused by the gas crisis, saying there was no “immediate concern”.

COP26 president Alok Sharma also suggested the public could be “confident” there was no threat to Christmas dinner.

It comes amid growing concerns that rising gas prices will plunge the country into an energy crisis, as well as impacting on food supply.

“The clear message that is coming out of this is that there is no immediate concern in terms of supply, we don’t see any risks going into the winter,” he told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme.

“People should be confident that the supplies will be there and that we will be protecting them in terms of price rises. But of course we are not complacent about this.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has been holding talks with the energy sector following a sharp rise in the wholesale price of natural gas.

The gas crisis meant two large fertiliser plants in the UK – which produce CO2 as a by-product – have closed.

This has led to a cut in the CO2 supply to the food industry - which is essential for the slaughter of livestock and used in the packaging of products.

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of Bernard Matthews and 2 Sisters Food Group, said the issue combined with a shortage of workers will affect the supply of Turkeys for Christmas.

He said: “The supply of Bernard Matthews turkeys this Christmas was already compromised as I need to find 1,000 extra workers to process supplies. Now with no CO2 supply, Christmas will be cancelled.”

The problem also means families could see their energy bills jump by as much as £400 in a year.

At least four small UK energy companies are also expected to go bust next week amid soaring gas prices.

Labour’s shadow economic secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden said it showed how the UK was “very exposed” to an international price spike.