The price of fresh produce may be pushed up by an outage at the only remaining domestic industrial facility that produces liquid carbon dioxide for the food industry. Todd Energy became the only domestic, commercial producer of food-grade carbon dioxide last year following the permanent closure of the Marsden Point oil refinery in March.
But Todd chief executive Mark Macfarlane said it had been forced to temporarily shut down its plant, which is attached to its Kapuni natural gas field in Taranaki, late last month because of a safety issue.
Carbon dioxide is often used to preserve packaged meat, cheese, and ready-prepared meals, and accelerate the growth of tomatoes and salad vegetables in greenhouses.
Roelf Schreuder, production manager at NZ Gourmet, one of the country’s largest fruit and vegetable growers, said the price of carbon dioxide had risen ten times to about $3.50 a kilo since the closure of the Marsden refinery, pushing up its own costs by tens of thousands of dollars a week.