Is there a tea shortage? Why Red Sea attacks have led to supply issues

13 February 2024, 17:18

There may be a tea shortage
There may be a tea shortage. Picture: Alamy

By Hope Wilson

A tea shortage may be hitting the UK in 2024.

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Britons could be struggling to find tea in their supermarkets soon, as supply delays and disruptions may see shelves empty.

Retail giant Sainsbury's have told customers that there are 'nationwide' issues surrounding the supply of black tea.

A sign in one Sainsbury's shop said: "We are experiencing supply issues affecting the nationwide supply of black tea. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope to be back in full supply soon."

It is believed that this disruption is due to Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea. This has caused suppliers to change route, which could add an extra 10 to 14 days onto shipment times.

Woman pours tea
Sainsbury's have warned of 'nationwide' supply issues of tea. Picture: Alamy

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said: "There is temporary disruption to some black tea lines, but the impact on consumers will be minimal as retailers are not expecting significant challenges."

Black tea is mostly produced in Asia and East Africa, with China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

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Cup of tea being poured
There could be a tea shortage in the future. Picture: Alamy

Tea lovers took to X, formally known as Twitter, to air their feelings on the situation.

One user wrote: "The Great Toilet Roll Shortage of 2020 nearly destroyed Britain. Just imagine what damage a tea shortage is going to do. We’re doomed."

Another added: "Oh no! There's a tea shortage, apparently. Without tea Britain will fall apart.'

With a third stating: "Just seen about the tea shortage, I bought an extra pack a week or so ago as thought I was low and I’d hidden one in a cupboard which I had forgotten about. Fine for now."

Woman drinking tea
People are devastated that there may be a tea shortage. Picture: Alamy

Is there a tea shortage?

Sainsbury's have warned that there are 'nationwide' issues surrounding the supply of black tea.

Industry experts have suggested that the shortage will be temporary and retailers are not expecting to experience any 'significant challenges'.

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