• Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Business

Red Sea shipping crisis may hit tea supply in UK

NORTHWICH, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Tetley tea bags sit on display in a Tesco supermarket on July 06, 2022 in Northwich, England. The British Retail Consortium recently said food manufacturers and supermarkets are having to pass on some of the cost of soaring raw materials to consumers, leading to the price of basic goods throughout the UK rising at the fastest pace since September 2008. Fresh food prices increased by 6% in the year to June 2022 coupled with an increase in inflation, and fuel and energy prices to create a cost of living crisis. This is leading to millions of low-income households going without essentials items, falling behind on bills and taking on debt. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Eastern Eye

BRITONS may have to brave a shortage of some lines of tea, after the supermarket industry warned of a risk to supply from shipping disruptions in the Red Sea.

The British Retail Consortium said it had seen “temporary disruption” to some black tea lines, and an industry source said there had been some delays to flavoured lines.

Although the country’s two biggest supermarket groups showed ample supply on their websites on Tuesday (13), companies have warned in general that the length of disruptions to Red Sea shipping will determine whether consumers see empty shelves in Europe.

The warning of delays is the first for a food item, following several from clothing retailers after Iran-aligned Houthi militia attacked ships in and around the Red Sea, slowing trade between Asia and Europe.

Britain, the world’s fifth largest tea importer, gets more than half of its imported tea from Kenya and India, making it dependent on the Red Sea route.

Unprocessed tea is shipped into the UK for processing and packaging, helping to make Britain the 10th largest exporter globally, according to the Institute of Export and International Trade (IEIT).

“There is temporary disruption to some black tea lines, but the impact on consumers will be minimal as retailers are not expecting significant challenges,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, which represents major supermarkets.

An industry source said that while there were a few delays, a big shortage was not expected.

IEIT director general Marco Forgione said tea may be “the first of many items caught up in this supply chain crisis”.

The alternative shipping route around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope can add 10-14 days to a journey. Several major UK clothing retailers, including Next, Pepco Group, Primark and Matalan, have cautioned on the potential impact of disruption to Red Sea shipments.

Related Stories