Foodservice Footprint Footprint-Waste-Awards-Nov-2023-10-1 Fizz firm requests furlough for staff due to climate change Drinks Sector News  news-email email-news

Fizz firm requests furlough for staff due to climate change

Cava producer Freixenet SA this week asked the Spanish government to approve the furlough of up to 615 workers after a years-long drought has hit grape yields. 

The “terrible drought, originated by climate change, is affecting us since 2021 but especially since 2023” and due to this the company needs to adjust its workforce, Freixenet vice-president Pedro Ferrer said in an internal statement signed with other company executives, and seen by Bloomberg. It marks a rare move to link staff cuts to climate change.

The regional government in Cataolonia has already declared a state of emergency for water. Another key producer Codorniu SA has reportedly not been affected. The CCOO union group said it did not agree that conditions existed for a furlough.

A growing number of crops are under significant stress due to climate change and some of the extreme weather this can bring. 

Beer brands are also feeling the heat. Genetic breeding could offer one solution to the threat of longer, hotter summers and milder, shorter winters, reported Just Drinks this week. Asahi forecasts a two-degree temperature rise by 2050 would result in a decline in hops quality (by 13%) and yield (5%) in the Czech Republic. Barley yields are also falling, noted Carlsberg.

“Today, the Carlsberg Research Laboratory has turned its focus to develop climate-tolerant plants with higher yields and better malting and brewing quality rethinking the entire brewing process to come up with better ways to brew beer in a way that is more climate-friendly,” explained Birgitte Skadhauge, head of the Carlsberg Research Laboratory.

Meanwhile, a new assessment of the UK vegetable oil harvest by ECIU has found that oilseed rape production this year could be reduced by as much as 38% compared to last year, partly due to less area planted but also because of the wet weather. The think tank has also estimated that production of wheat, barley, oats and oilseed rape may be down by 4 million tonnes compared to 2023 – a reduction of 17.5%. Higher costs are on the cards.

ECIU lead analyst Tom Lancaster said that given half our food comes from abroad, the UK will have to ensure farmers are supported both here in the UK and also in countries that grow the fruit and other staples we can’t, and that are also being battered by weather extremes. “With climate impacts only increasing as the world warms, we need to view this winter as a harbinger of things to come,” he added.