CO2: Dealing with a distribution disaster

In the midst of a heatwave, the summer BBQ season and the World Cup, an absence of alcoholic drinks, soft drinks and meat is anything but ideal.

For many businesses, the ongoing national shortage of carbon dioxide, is nothing short of a crisis. In the TVE office we couldn’t help but recollect how, just a little over four months ago, KFC suffered the national humiliation of being a chicken restaurant with no chicken. In a matter of weeks, however, they had turned a catastrophe into a PR masterclass. Several temporary store closures, an apology, and a humorous advert in the Metro later, the storm had broken and KFC emerged triumphant.

By contrast, the vast swathe of businesses affected by the CO2 deficit are remaining remarkably quiet. Yes, Warburtons has pinned a tweet about reduced factory output, and Wetherspoons released a statement to advertise business as usual (just in time for England’s victory over Colombia), but in general, the atmosphere is one of quiet apprehension. Given that CO2 is a necessity in the production process for beer, meat, carbonated drinks, packaging, crumpets and dry ice, it is unsurprising that newspapers are predicting an imminent bidding war. With one of the few operational CO2 plants suffering a temporary power shortage on Monday, the situation looks set to continue.

The question, then, is not simply what are the affected brands going to do, but how should they respond? We often use ‘Shockwaves’ to ask our clients to consider the worst case scenario for their brand; should the unimaginable happen tomorrow would they be ready for it?

If KFC could find the solution to a pretty significant problem, is it possible for Ocado, ASDA and Warburtons to not simply ride out the storm but to capitalise on it? Only time will tell if silence is golden, or if vocally responding is the only way to overturn a crisis.

By: The Value Engineers

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