U.S. boba shortage makes bubble tea research a challenge
Shipping delays are preventing some tea shops from getting the ingredients needed to make bubble tea, marking the latest shortage caused by a pandemic.
Bubble Tea is a popular Taiwanese milk tea drink that comes in several flavors and tapioca pearls. Popping bobas, flavored powders, tapioca pearls and syrups are among the items blocked in transit, Business Insider reported.
US ports on both coasts have been overwhelmed as consumer spending increases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boats with tens of thousands of shipping containers lie outside ports, causing delays.
Oliver Yoon, vice president of global sales and marketing for Boba Direct, a nationwide supplier of bubble tea products based in Chicago, said the shortage started about a month ago.
“COVID has really affected the situation with the import,” Yoon told Business Insider. “No one anticipated what happened last year; it’s one of those domino effects later in the future.”
He said it was a “perfect storm” and not expected to clear until the end of April at the earliest.
The national chain Kung Fu Tea, which has more than 10 locations in Philadelphia, told USA Today it expects the shortage could last even longer than that.
“We have warehouses on the east and west coasts, so our shortage compared to other brands of boba is much less”, Mai Shi, the company’s marketing and public relations manager, said. “However, we are clearly seeing a trend of steadily increasing demand for the entire bubble tea category as people want cold, made-to-order drinks.”
Mr Wish Tea, which has multiple branches in Philadelphia, said it was also experiencing delays.
“We are experiencing delays on shipments due to container and truck driver shortages according to our customs clearance agent, but we still have a lot of bubbles in stock for about a month, and I hope our next shipment arrives on time. ! ” Mr. Wish said in a message to PhillyVoice. “In the meantime, we have enough boba for everyone!”
Other drinks also feel the pressure of the bottleneck. Starbucks reported shortages of cups, syrups and oat milk. The company said some stores had experienced shortages, but this was not a national issue.
Earlier this month, Kraft-Heinz Co. reported a shortage of ketchup for its single-serve pouches. Kraft-Heinz represents 70% of the ketchup retail market in the United States.