Supermarket staple disappears from shelves leaving shoppers confused

Woolworths says supply has been impacted as a carbon dioxide shortage has seen stock levels of some fizzy drink favourites plunge.

Aussies hoping to get their hands on cheap soft drinks at the supermarket have been left in the lurch at the checkout, after a nationwide shortage of carbon dioxide stripped shelves bare at both Woolworths and Coles.

Fizzy drink enthusiasts all over the country have picked up on the significant lack of stock, which has been noticed at both of the nation's major supermarkets, due to an ongoing CO2 shortage causing supply chain issues for manufacturers.

Carbon dioxide is extracted from both the atmosphere and at major industrial sites such as power plants and natural gas-processing facilities. Manufacturers capture it in large quantities and purify it before dissolving the colourless and odourless gas into a liquid.

It reacts with water and forms carbonic acid, which is the what causes the "fizz" in all of our favourite drinks.

Bare shelves at Woolies.
A CO2 shortage has impacted soft drink stock levels at the nation's biggest supermarkets. Source: Reddit

CO2 shortage sees stock levels plunge

A Woolworths spokesperson confirmed that supply issues had impacted stock levels across its supermarkets.

"Shortages of CO2 have impacted the supply of some soft drinks in our stores," the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. "We are working to manage these impacts and a number of alternative products are available to customers while these shortages continue."

About 20 products impacted by shortage at nation's biggest supermarket

There are approximately 20 Woolworths brand soft drinks that have been affected by the CO2 shortage, with a number of other products available to customers in stores as substitutes for the affected ranges, Woolworths clarified.

A Coles spokesperson said they were working to resolve the issue. "We are working with our suppliers to minimise the impacts for our customers, and we hope to have products back on our shelves as soon as possible. In the meantime, we have increased our stock of alternative drinks," the spokesperson told Yahoo News.

It's understood that the home-brand soda water and lemonade are the fizzy drinks at the supermarkets are most impacted by the shortages.

Australia's carbon dioxide market relies on two multinational suppliers: the British company BOC, that supplies Woolworths drinks and French firm Air Liquide.

"Product has been imported to bridge the supply gap; however, due to many current issues impacting international freight, supply has been impacted except for critical medical, safety and water treatment customers," a BOC spokesperson told the Illawarra Mercury.

Bare shelves at Woolies thanks to a CO2 shortage.
Shoppers have noticed bare shelves at both Coles and Woolworths. Source:

The Australian New Zealand Industrial Gas Association, the nation's authority representing gas companies in both countries, expressed fears the shortage was another sign of Australia's weak food supply chain, The Daily Mail reported. It said shortages are often caused by outages at production facilities and Australia's reliance on overseas producers.

Supplies of beer are understood to be unaffected by the shortage.

Aussies air confusion over shortage

Online, Aussies were confused over the supply issues. "Why are home brand sugar free drinks so hard to buy," a person wrote, beside an image of bare shelves.

"And as home brand products have the lowest profit margins they are always the first cut whenever there are production issues," another said.

"There’s been an ongoing shortage of the CO2 used to make the bubbles. Presumably the lowest cost drinks, like home brands are becoming less viable. I’ve also noticed other lower value carbonated drinks like Saxbys Soda Water are also harder to find — its presumably diverted to higher value product," said another.

"The Coles brand no sugar raspberry softy has been my pregnancy craving and now it’s gone," a disgruntled woman said.

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