Oct 13th, 2022
4 mins

The BFFF has been alerted to concerns across industry regarding the availability of sodium hydroxide (E524) (caustic soda) which is commonly used for CIP systems as well as for cleaning trays and cookers etc

Following discussions at a recent Food Biocides Industry Group (FBIG) we can now bring you further detail and advice on this matter.

Firstly, this is not a new issue, but rather an ongoing one which the chemical industry has been managing since January 2022. So just as we are seeing shortages and rising prices for other materials, caustic soda can now be added to that list.

Several simultaneous factors are causing UK formulators to regulate supply. The challenge has predominantly been a result of the largest UK manufacturer in Cheshire restricting their plant capacity due to maintenance. Unfortunately, this plant has yet to come back fully on-stream and so roughly 80% of the UK’s requirement is having to be imported from Europe and distributed in bulk tankers.

However, even that has been fraught with problems – the shortage of suitably qualified drivers to move road tankers has meant loads are being transported via rivers and canals, but with the hot summer months causing lower water levels, load capacities have had to be reduced to cope.

Caustic production is also heavily energy intensive which, as we are all too well aware, has been subject to incredible price increases over recent months.

Hearing of these concerns, naturally, many of you may be asking the question ‘should I be building stocks? But the answer is absolutely not! – as far as possible you should keep to your regular ordering pattern to ensure that sufficient stock remains available for all. Increasing stock holding would simply place further undue stress on the supply chain resulting in the very thing we are trying to avoid – shortages!

Colleagues at Christeyns Hygiene, who are also members of FBIG, have very kindly allowed us to share with you a Technical Information briefing note which they’ve recently pulled together. We would highly recommend you take the time to review it as it not only explains the situation further but offers excellent advice as to how best to manage it.

In the meantime, if you do have anything which you wish us to pass back to Government in relation to this matter then please feel free to email us.


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