The owner of a major pig processing plant has warned animal welfare and meat supplies are being threatened by the shortage of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas facing the food and drink sector.
Quality Pork, a partnership between UK meat processor Tulip and the Scottish Pig Producers (SPP) co-operative, said it was to suspend output at its Brechin slaughterhouse in Angus later on Tuesday.
It blamed a lack of CO2 gas - used as part of the stunning process - for the decision to stop work.
Chief (Taiwan OTC: 3345.TWO - news) executive Andy McGowan said the industry was facing an unprecedented situation because of the gas shortage across Europe , largely caused by shutdowns for maintenance at plants which produce food grade CO2 which is also used for things such as carbonated drinks, beer-making and vacuum packing.
The drinks industry has said that while it expects there to be plenty of beer, lager and cider to go around during the World Cup, there could be availability problems surrounding popular brands at a local level if the gas shortage lasts much longer.
Mr McGowan said his company's gas supplier had been unable to guarantee delivery to the Brechin pig plant.
"That's the frustrating thing - they're not telling us anything...the top priority is animal welfare - we will not have ourselves in a situation where the welfare is suffering."
Quality Pork can process more than 6,000 animals in a typical week. It is making arrangements for other abattoirs to take some of its work though they too have been affected by the gas issue.
British Meat Processors Association chief executive, Nick Allen, said: "The frustration is the lack of information.
"We understand that several producers are reopening plants and restarting production, but getting information is very difficult, which makes it very difficult to plan.
"Things are getting pretty tight and this hot weather won't be helping.
"If things don't alter this week, we're going to see people having to make some serious decisions, mainly in the pig production area."
Chicken processors have also complained of dwindling supplies while Coca-Cola Great Britain has been among drinks firms facing disruption.
It has temporarily paused some production lines but insisted there has been no disruption to supply.