African rain stops British barbecues

Tuesday 05th Jul 2011 by theWeather Club

As chestnuts roasting on a open fire are the harbingers of winter, so the smell of burning sausages have long heralded the arrival of the great British summer. This year however severe floods in Namibia means barbecuing Brits could be looking at a severe charcoal shortage.

Yesterday the biggest instant barbecue company in Britain said that it faced a shortage in charcoal after floods in the African country wiped out much of the supply. Bar-Be-Quick, which imports 200,000 tonnes of charcoal every year, said the extreme weather in Namibia had really affected the country's ability to make and store charcoal. As a result, sales manager Caroline Hoare told the Telegraph, "not only has the adverse weather made it difficult to keep the charcoal dry, it has also washed away roads used to transport it to packing and distribution plants."

That floods in one part of the world could stop a barbecue in another could be quite comical, were Britain not so overwhelming dependent on Namibia for charcoal – half of all the £100 million worth we buy each year, to be precise. If August is a washout then we might just have enough to see us though (although Hoare said it was "inevitable" that prices would go up). If, however, there is a prolonged spell of good weather this summer then "supplies will be scarce, if not close to redundant" – and that would dampen everyone's spirits.