Trouble brewing for Britain’s tea amid price hikes and stock shortages

Posted on 22 Apr 2024 by The Manufacturer

Yesterday was National Tea Day and UK consumers will have celebrated with a cuppa that is almost 50% more expensive than it was this time last year.

A combination of cost-of-living increases (rising inflation and wider economic uncertainty) and the impact of geopolitical issues, like the Red Sea crisis have impacted the supply and price of Britain’s favourite beverage.

National Tea Day fell on Sunday 21 April this year and tea lovers may have found themselves in for a surprise as they discover the steep increase in tea prices hitting their wallets; the hike in the cost of tea comes just weeks after it was revealed chocolate lovers faced ’shrinkflation’ on Easter eggs this year.

Recent data from Trading Economics reveals a staggering 34.52% increase (at time of writing) in tea prices over the past month alone. The Journey of tea from plantation to teapot is now fraught with challenges, highlighting the complexities the market now faces.

In addition, the recent Red Sea Crisis has stirred up concerns about potential tea shortages, mainly due to the disruptions in the journey of tea. Recent reports from the British Retail Consortium indicate temporary disruptions in the availability of black tea, with flavoured varieties also facing delays. The crisis has affected shipping routes, leading to delays in the transportation of tea from its origin to destination markets. Despite initial reassurances from major retailers, uncertainties persist regarding the duration of these disruptions and their impact on tea supplies across Europe.

With shortages looming on the horizon due to supply chain disruption, Marco Forgione, Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade, said: “The UK currently stands as the 6th largest importer and 10th largest exporter of tea globally, a testament to the strength and importance of our nation’s tea market.

“However, the tranquillity of our tea supply and demand has been disrupted by recent upheavals, which has resulted in a surge in prices. The ongoing weaponisation of trade and ongoing geopolitical crises such as the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. These disruptions have rippled throughout the global supply chain, adding to price pressures, shrinkflation and availability issues, all of which put further pressure on consumers already stretched purses and complicating businesses’ supply chains.

“In 2022 alone, our tea exports totalled a substantial $123m, while imports reached a noteworthy $332m. And as National Tea Day approaches, it’s important to recognise the resilience of the tea industry in the face of these economic and supply chain challenges”.

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