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

A Nexii roof panel is lifted during construction of a Starbucks in Abbotsford. Alexzi Building Solutions will be building a manufacturing plant in Langford or North Cowichan to produce the sustainable construction panels. (Photo courtesy of Alexzi Building Solutions)
Langford eyed for facility to make green building alternative to concrete

Langford, North Cowichan possible sites for plant to create sustainable construction panels

Local MP Elizabeth May says the public has a right to know the identity of the company that plans to operate the massive warehouse proposed for Sidney on airport lands but residents who want to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts. (Black Press Media File)
MP Elizabeth May says public has right to know identity of Sidney warehouse operator

Residents wanting to stop the project would probably have to go through the courts, said May

Bukwila by Art Thompson, set at the steps of Lansdowne campus’ Wilna Thomas Cultural Centre, has been welcoming students to campus since 1997. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
World-renowned artist’s legacy lives on at Camosun College

Art Thompson made untold contributions toward Indigenous education, art and advocacy

Did you know, according to the CRD, every person produces an average of 185–200 litres of wastewater per day? Here’s where most of it gets treated, at the new wastewater treatment facility at McLoughlin Point in Esquimalt. (CRD image)
View Royal signs on to wastewater funding plan

Capital Regional District requesting to borrow up to $34.3 million to upgrade infrastructure

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Island Health has confirmed COVID-19 exposures at Ecole des Deux Mondes in Campbell River on May 4 and 5, and at Mill Bay Nature School in Mill Bay on April 28, 29, 30 and May 3. (Metro Creative photo)
Two new COVID-19 school exposures confirmed by Island Health

Health authority contacting anyone exposed at Ecole des Deux Mondes, Mill Bay Nature School

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Gord Judson steers his log truck down a forest service road, using two-way radio and call signals to mark his position for oncoming traffic. (B.C. Forest Safety Council)
Planning some B.C. wilderness fishing? Don’t catch a log truck

Remote recreation areas bracing for heavy pandemic pressure

Most Read