Europe is the midst of a severe CO2 (carbon dioxide) shortage. One result is a shortage of dry ice, which impacts an airlines’ ability to offer ice cream onboard. Now, airlines like United have been forced to suspend ice cream sundae service on flights out of London.
Without getting too technical or boring you to death, most CO2 used for food-processing is created in ammonia plants in Europe. These plants are predominantly in the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and France. The biggest use for CO2 is in fertilizers, with demand peaking during the cooler months. Consequently, many plants shut down for maintenance during this time to prepare for the “busy season.”
But that creates a problem for meat, soft drink and dry ice manufacturers, since their demand is highest during the summer months. With so many plants currently offline, some beer and soft drink manufactures have been forced to slow production. Meanwhile, dry ice has become an increasingly scarcer commodity.
United business class passengers are receiving the following emails prior to their flights:
Unfortunately, because of a break in the system that produces dry ice throughout Europe, we will not have it available to keep the ice cream cold on your flight. As a result, we will be serving another dessert option for you to enjoy. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this might cause and we look forward to seeing you onboard.
Thus far, the substitute dessert has usually been a chocolate mousse.
If more plants do not quickly come back online, we could see a shortage of meat and carbonated soft drinks as well. Imagine a flight without ice cream, meat, or any fizzy drinks. United could market it as its new diet service, promoting weight loss and a healthy lifestyle…