Tea brand warns of 'critical period' as Red Sea attacks cause supply issues

British shoppers could be facing a tea shortage, with one brand warning supply issues are at a 'critical period', ITV News reporter Ellie Pitt explains

A tea brand has warned it is facing a "critical period" as attacks on ships in the Red Sea are causing delays to the supply to British shops.

Tetley tea told ITV News: “At the moment it's much tighter than we would like this is a critical period which requires our constant attention…but we're pretty confident we can maintain supply levels.”

It comes after Sainsbury’s told shoppers in some branches there are “nationwide” problems which could impact the availability of black tea.

Some shoppers have taken pictures of empty spaces on the shelves, showing gaps in the place where Yorkshire Tea and PG Tips would be.

The Retail Consortium told ITV News this is a “temporary problem” and impact on customers is expected to be “minimal”.

The United Kingdom Tea & Infusions Association (UKTIA) represents over 90% of all tea sold at retail in the Britain.

Dr Sharon Hall, Chief Executive of UKTIA, said “The tea businesses UKTIA represents are currently reporting good stocks of tea needed to continue supply to UK customers.

"Shoppers should not be concerned; their favourite tea brands will continue to be available.”

What is causing the tea supply issue?

There are delays to deliveries of a number of products, including tea, due to ships being rerouted in around the Red Sea.

Cargo ships are having to take a longer but safer route to the UK travelling around the coast of Africa instead of through the Suez Canal.

The Houthi militant group harepeatedly launched attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and elsewhere off the Yemen coast in recent months, claiming they are targeting Israeli or Israel-destined ships in protest at the war with Hamas in Gaza.

However, they have frequently targeted ships with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, endangering shipping on a major global trade route used for accessing the Suez Canal.

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