Will tea disappear from UK shop shelves due to supply issues?

Tea drinkers have been warned of ‘supply issues’ affecting supermarket stock across the country.

Sainsbury’s has recently announced that ‘nationwide supply problems’ could lead to a shortage of black tea on the shelves of UK supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s has recently announced that ‘nationwide supply problems’ could lead to a shortage of black tea on the shelves of UK supermarkets.

A sign at a 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.”

Speaking to the media, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, 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.”

Major disruptions

Tea is mainly produced in Asia and East Africa, with China, India, Sri Lanka, and Kenya producing around three-quarters of tea globally. Freight shipments from these regions have faced major disruption over the past two months due to attacks in the Red Sea.

Violence by Houthi rebels has forced shipping firms to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope. This adds about 10 to 14 days to shipment times, as well as increases costs for companies responsible for shipping the goods.

Home grown brews

When supply chains come into question, it’s prudent to investigate potential solutions that are closer to home. Last year Welsh hill farmer Mandy Lloyd planted 140 tea bushes around her farm in Powys, Wales, to see whether this high value crop could generate additional income for the business.

She received funding for the project from the Farming Connect ‘Try Out Fund’, a new initiative that gives farmers and growers the chance to test their ideas and bring them to life.

Mandy Lloyd farms 150 acres at Cleobury Farm in Heyope, Knighton.

Mandy says there is a gap in knowledge about tea growing in Wales and the UK generally as it is a novel crop.

“Funding can be used for technical assistance, sampling, testing and other reasonable expenses such as those relating to short term hire of specialist equipment or facilities directly relating to the project,’’ Ms Williams explained.

If you’re considering a diversification into tea, funding application forms can be found on the Farming Connect website. Continue reading Mandy’s story.

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