Tetley monitoring its tea supplies on daily basis – BBC News

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SOURCE: Jemma Dempsey | BBC News


One of the UK’s best known tea makers has revealed it is monitoring tea supplies on a daily basis as imports reach a “critical period”.

Tetley Tea, the country’s second biggest tea brand, said supplies were “much tighter” than it would like amid disruption in the Red Sea.

It comes after Sainsbury’s supermarket issued warnings about the availability of black tea.

However, Tetley said it hoped to continue to meet normal demand.

It said while its current production levels were not changing, the amount it was able to hold in stock as a buffer would drop, in what it described as a “quite fluid situation”.

The company, owned by Tata Consumer Products, supplies tea bags to supermarkets in the UK and exports around the world. It told the BBC it had introduced mitigation measures in December to cope with supply chain problems.

A Tetley spokeswoman said: “At the moment it’s much tighter than we would like it to be but we’re pretty confident we can maintain supply levels.

“Our priority is to maintain our consistent high levels of service, based on ordered & forecasted demand. We believe we can continue to deliver this, but acknowledge that this is a critical period which requires our constant attention.”

Market leader Yorkshire Tea also told the BBC: “Unfortunately, the ongoing shipping disruptions are affecting the grocery category… we’re monitoring the situation closely.”

Sainsbury's sign

Consumers are starting to notice problems on the High Street. A sign in one Sainsbury’s store said: “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.”

Other supermarket chains have not publicly reported any problems and the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents the major retailers, called it a “temporary disruption”.

Andrew Opie, Director of Food & Sustainability at the BRC, said: “The impact on consumers will be minimal as retailers are not expecting significant challenges.”

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA) which represents more than 90% of all tea sold at shops in the UK, played down the impact of the Red Sea disruption. Chief executive Sharon Hall, said the organisation’s members were reporting “good stocks” of tea.

“Shoppers should not be concerned; their favourite tea brands will continue to be available,” she added.

The UKTIA said tea still outranked coffee as the UK’s favourite hot drink with approximately 100 million cups drunk daily.

cup of tea
Sainsbury’s warned shoppers about supply issues of black tea but the BRC says it is a “temporary disruption”

The import of tea, like many other products, has been affected by the continued attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Despite efforts by UK and US armed forces to prevent the attacks on western shipping through the Red Sea and Suez canal, imports into the UK and Europe are still being disrupted.

Many shipping companies are opting to avoid the now dangerous route to their destinations and are sailing instead via South Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, adding time and expense to their journeys.

The BBC has contacted all the major supermarkets as well as PG Tips, Twinings and Typhoo Tea for comment.


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