Boba tea has been a popular drink and many Boba lovers may experience a crisis while the popularity begins booming. Boba is a Taiwanese milk tea drink with a variety of flavors that features chewy pearls of tapioca. Supply has been tightened for the last month and it’s not likely to let up until the end of April at the earliest. Bubble tea products like tapioca pearls, popping bobas, flavored powders and syrups, and disposables, are all stuck in a “huge bottleneck.”
The US is currently undergoing a shortage in tapioca and other products due to the amount of shipments stuck due to Covid restrictions. Many boats with thousands of shipping containers are stuck at bay waiting to be unloaded. Starbucks franchises, for example, aren’t able to fulfill customer orders of the new oat milk drink offerings and baristas are even reporting shortages of cups and syrups. Fitness gear, roller skates, and furniture, among other products also have been hampered.
It has also been said that the blockage in the Suez Canal also contributed to the current shortage. Many stores and shops have already run out of boba since almost 99% of tapioca pearls are imported into the US. There are Boba Guys shops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, and the company has a factory in California. But even with a factory, they said supplies “will be in flux for several months until we get our next series of tapioca starch shipments.”
However, this does not mean the teas are going away! Many boba stores have announced that their teas will likely come without tapioca pearls.
Oliver Yoon, the vice-president of sales and global marketing for Boba Direct, a Chicago-based nationwide supplier of bubble tea products, told Business Insider the shortage started about a month ago and wasn’t likely to end until the end of April at the earliest. Without tapioca pearls some boba stores even said that they will probably see a decrease in sales of about 70%!