WORCESTER businesses have said the Co2 gas shortage crisis has had little impact so far on them but a city butcher has said it could be a "disaster" if the crisis returns in the run up to Christmas.

A sharp rise in gas prices meant two large UK fertiliser plants – which produce CO2 as a by-product and supply 60 per cent of the nationally supply – shut, cutting supply to the food and drink industry.

It was revealed earlier this week the government has now stepped in to provide “limited financial support”, understood to potentially be in the tens of millions of pounds, towards CF Fertilisers’ running costs so they can now resume and prevent a food supply shortage.

But the agreement is only in place for three weeks while the market 'adapts to the surge in global gas prices', and it is unclear what happens next month after the deal runs out.

CO2 is vital to the food industry, being used to stun animals in slaughterhouses and to keep packaged products fresh.

Matthew Nelmes, of M&M Meats in St Swithins Street, who has been in the industry more than two decades, said they had seen no shortage of supply of meat so far, but believed the news was driving a surge in trade at his butchers.

"We have been very busy, we have sold 50 turkey breasts in recent days," Mr Nelmes said.

"I don't know if people are buying early (for Christmas).

"People may be panicking a little bit, thinking 'will there be a shortage?'.

"Butchers seem not to have been affected so far, and it might affect us in three weeks if things go wrong.

"We are proactive using three or four suppliers, including Worcestershire ones. Footfall seems to be up, and people are spending £50 to £70.

"I don't know too if it's because people are saying they are seeing supermarket shelves are empty.

"With Christmas looming - one of our biggest times of the year - it could be disastrous."

A spokesman for H.Dayus The Master Butcher in St John’s said: "We deal with small suppliers, and haven't really noticed any disruption in the delivery chain, or being able to buy any products.

"And no one we have spoke to (in the industry) has mentioned there is likely to be, so we aren't concerned at all."

Co2 is also used to put the fizz in beer and cider, but similarly the breweries we spoke with said they had no concerns.

Sarah Saleh, head brewer, of The Hop Shed, in Suckley, said it didn't affect them directly as they send their beer off to be bottled, but so far the bottle company they deal with hasn't reported any shortage or concerns.

Managing director Dan Frost of Lakehouse Brewery in Malvern added: "We have been all good, and we have no concerns at the moment."