Bubble Tea. (Tom McCorkle/Washington Post)

Bubble Tea. (Tom McCorkle/Washington Post)

No bubble tea this spring? Canada faces boba shortage amid shipping delays

Concern has arisen among bubble tea cafes and shops as demand for the drink grows with warmer weather

Canada is experiencing a shortage of tapioca pearls, or boba, used in bubble tea as shipping delays continue to affect the global supply chain.

Most Canadian wholesalers get bubble tea supplies from Asia, particularly from Taiwan, where the popular drink originated, said a Vancouver-based supplier of bubble tea products.

“Right now, the supply of popping boba and (tapioca) pearls are running really thin,” said Greg Tieu of Bubble Tea Canada, which provides wholesale supplies to companies in Alberta, Quebec and Ontario.

This is causing concern among bubble tea cafes and shops in Canada as demand for the drink grows with warmer weather, Tieu said.

Bubble tea, a Taiwanese tea-based drink, commonly features chewy pearls of tapioca or boba, which are made from the starch of cassava.

Tieu said the shortage is caused by the pandemic, coupled with the obstruction of the Suez Canal last month after a container ship blocked the trade route.

“The cost of that (delay) is being passed onto shops and consumers,” he said, noting that the backlog has caused some wholesale prices to go up.

“That stop in the supply chain can hit stores very hard, whether they’ll have supplies or not.”

The delays are not only affecting the supply of tapioca pearls, popping boba and flavoured syrups but also items such as disposable cups, he added.

The shortage has been going on for at least two weeks and could take months to catch up, he said.

“We’re hoping the backlog would catch up,” said Tieu, adding that the business has started to limit purchase quantities.

AB Distribution, a Canada-wide bubble tea products distributor based in Calgary, said it is also experiencing a shortage tied to delays.

Some shipments that should have arrived in March are only arriving this week, said Carol Tang, AB Distribution’s sales manager.

“There’s definitely a lot of unpredictable factors. Shipments can be cancelled, containers can be cancelled, even when we already have them scheduled,” she said.

Tang said this can cause a lot of stress for businesses.

“We’re hoping that once we get through this jam, the remaining arrivals will continue to arrive,” she said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Food

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Rotary Club of Salmon Arm president Norm Brown talks about the work the city’s Rotary Clubs do for the community during a Rotary 75th Anniversary event at the Blackburn Park picnic shelter on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Rotarians mark 75th anniversary

Flags placed around Blackburn Park picnic shelter for video shoot

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Anglemont shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Police watchdog find Salmon Arm RCMP have no involvement in head-on collision. (File photo)
Police watchdog finds Salmon Arm RCMP not involved in Highway 1 crash

Woman seriously injured on April 22 after head-on collision

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read