Support our Nation today - please donate here

Tea drinkers warned over ‘supply issues’ facing supermarkets

12 Feb 2024 2 minute read
Photo by dungthuyvunguyen from Pixabay

Shoppers have been warned they could struggle to find tea on the shelves due to “supply issues” facing supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s has cautioned shoppers in some stores that there are “nationwide” problems which could impact the availability of black tea.

But retail bosses have said the problems are “temporary” and stressed that the impact on consumers is expected to be “minimal”.

Black tea

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.”

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 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 in the region 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.

This 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.

“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,” he told the newspaper at the time.

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.

Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
4 months ago

What a supergolden opportunity for supermarkets to increase prices. Yipee!!!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago

This sounds a bit like propaganda to me, it deserves a closer look…

Don’t forget that the Press and No 10 are joined at the hip…

There is an echo here of the last years of Neville Chamberlain and his dirty tricks office in the run-up to the Second World War…

see Richard Cockett’s Twilight of Truth…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
4 months ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

For a flavour of the Tea Industry I recommend Open Democracy: The hidden injuries of caste: south Indian tea workers and economic crisis…just a taste but remember who makes up the Tory front bench…

4 months ago

You know the drill. panic buy then flog int out on the book of face e bay.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

This is a good example of UK politicians failing to get informed about international politics and thus making daft ‘British Empire’ style decisions. It is worth reading the Guardian article about the Houtis and how they fit ionto the whole Middle East crisis: []. Sending the UK’s elederly bomber aircraft to attack will certainly not stop their attacks on shipping. However, sending the Foreign Secretary to Israel to press for a cease fire and a start on talks about a Two State peace deal would have been a much better (and cheaper) solution, not to mention a ban on sending… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Peter Cuthbert

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.