Bad news for tea drinkers as supply problems are leaving shelves bare

Tea may be in short supply as deliveries are delayed (Picture: Getty Images)

Tea drinkers could be robbed of a brew due to supply issues.

Sainsbury’s say some customers may struggle to find tea bags on the shelves in the coming weeks.

It comes as shipping through the Red Sea continues to be disrupted by Houthi rebel violence in the region off their native Yemen.

Recent strikes caused most shipping firms using the key trade route, which heads towards the Suez Canal, to redirect shipments around the Cape of Good Hope at the foot of Africa.

But retail bosses are trying to avoid any panic, claiming that any shortfalls in produce would be ‘temporary’ and said the impact to shoppers would be ‘minimal’.

A sign in one Sainsbury’s store read: ‘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.’

Retail bosses are claiming supply issues will have a ‘minimal’ impact on customers (Picture: Bloomberg)

Tea remains of the UK’s top hot drinks as fears grow that shelves may become bare (Picture: Dinendra Haria/LNP/REX/Shutterstock)

Sainsbury’s has been contacted for comment.

It is understood that the supply problems, which are partly linked to disruption of shipments through the Red Sea, are specifically linked to just one supermarket tea supplier.

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.’

Tea is largely produced in Asia and East Africa, with China, India, Sri Lanka and Kenya.

Houthi rebels, pictured training, have launched a series of attacks which the West has responded to with force (Picture: EPA)

Freight shipments from these regions have faced major disruption over the past two months due to attacks in the Red Sea.

These countries produce around three-quarters of tea consumed globally.

The alternative route adds roughly 10 to 14 days onto shipment times, as well as increased costs for shipping firms.

Sparsh Agarwal, owner of several tea gardens in Darjeeling in India and founder of Dorje Teas, told the i newspaper in December that tea shipments were being stalled due to the disruption.

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He said: ‘We sent shipments to the US and Europe two weeks ago, but they are still in Bombay port and have not been picked up yet.’

Joint strikes from the US and UK have been launched on the Yemen-based Houthis in recent weeks in a bid to stop the recent wave of attacks.

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