Rumors of a boba scarcity emerged final week when a number of media retailers reported on an Instagram publish from Boba Guys claiming that an industry-wide shortage of tapioca balls was imminent. However is that actually true? And if that’s the case, how dangerous may it get?
Whereas Boba Guys, which additionally operates the U.S. Boba Firm, is itself experiencing a shortfall as the results of world provide chain points (on this case, not receiving imported tapioca starch from Thailand as a consequence of a pile-up of transport containers in U.S. ports), what’s being reported as an industry-wide scarcity appears to be an remoted incident that can solely have an effect on tea outlets that supply tapioca balls immediately from the U.S. Boba Firm. Conversely, a number of boba outlets in Los Angeles, in addition to boba producers in Taiwan and within the U.S., say they don’t seem to be involved about the way forward for their boba provide, that means a run on boba at native tea outlets throughout the San Gabriel Valley and past just isn’t more likely to materialize — regardless of these scarcity experiences.
That mentioned, as information articles in regards to the pending “boba-pocalypse” went viral, some producers started to extend costs and restrict the variety of tapioca balls that may very well be bought — seemingly in response to orders spiking from tea store house owners. “Some retailer house owners are simply getting panicked and attempting to order greater than what they want,” says Stacey Kwong, the co-owner of Milk + T, which has three areas in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Portland. This conduct, which echoes the bathroom paper shopping for sprees of March 2020, is adversely affecting smaller, independently owned institutions that don’t have as a lot shopping for energy as bigger chains, although it hasn’t led to boba ecosystem meltdown.
The panic-buying has induced Tea Zone, one of many largest boba suppliers to U.S. tea outlets, to expire of its hottest line of tapioca balls — the A2000, says Kwong. Whereas Tea Zone is in low provide of the A2000 selection, its A1000 line that possesses much less Q texture remains to be in ample provide. “If a small store does run out of boba, simply realize it’s not their fault. Don’t go and provides them a nasty Yelp evaluation. It’s a small enterprise that’s a part of the neighborhood,” says Kwong.
“There isn’t a want to fret,” says Tomas Su, the proprietor of Sunright Tea, one of many fastest-growing boba chains in California with a number of areas in Los Angeles together with in West LA, Little Tokyo, Monterey Park, and Rowland Heights. Su defined to Eater LA that regardless that his tapioca ball producer in Taiwan is experiencing barely decrease manufacturing as a consequence of authorities restrictions positioned on water utilization following a drought, it shouldn’t have an effect on Sunright Tea’s 11 areas. “Within the absolute worst-case state of affairs, perhaps your small native mom-and-pop boba outlets [won’t] have boba on the menu for a day or two or they’ve to succeed in out to a special distributor, but it surely’s not going to have an effect on boba drinkers as a result of most outlets purchase in bulk for months prematurely,” says Su.

Whereas Boba Guys can level to produce chain points for its newest shortfall, some outlets have higher safeguards in place to buffer towards these sorts of disruptions, that are widespread for companies extremely depending on exports. “Our boba provide chain is greater than outfitted to cope with any delays which will come up. There isn’t a scarcity,” says Chingyi Fu, the final supervisor of Meet Contemporary, a rising chain of Taiwanese dessert outlets with six areas in Los Angeles that sources boba from Taiwan. Representatives from Tiger Sugar, Yifang, Junbi, and Onezo additionally reported not caring a couple of boba scarcity.
“I’m not nervous; we’re ready and have stock. I’ve sufficient boba for the following two months — I’ll be fantastic,” mentioned Elton Keung, proprietor of two Labobatory tea outlets within the San Gabriel Valley. Keung indicated in a latest Los Angeles Instances article that his common boba provider is offered out of tapioca balls. He clarified to Eater LA that his outlets could make boba from scratch if the scarcity stretches past the two-month provide.
“There isn’t a scarcity,” says Chingyi Fu, the final supervisor of Meet Contemporary, a rising chain of Taiwanese dessert outlets with six LA areas
Final week’s boba scarcity information has induced nervousness amongst boba fanatics. “After I heard there was a boba scarcity I used to be low-key freaking out. Boba is my pleased deal with and I get it weekly and now it’s going to be a luxurious,” mentioned Loreen Hwang, an LA native who usually visits Yifang, Sunright, 7 Leaves, and LA Tea Lounge. Nonetheless, when Hwang visited YiFang and inquired in regards to the scarcity on a latest go to, she was knowledgeable that it was not an issue.
“Boba runs in my blood. After I first heard I used to be shocked with a mixture of worry,” mentioned Evelyn Koo, an LA resident whose favourite tea outlets embody Half & Half, Tastea, Wushiland, Chicha SanSen, and BobaPop “I had a mindset of, ‘It’s time to stock-up on tapioca starch and elements to make it myself,’ particularly after what we’ve realized from this pandemic,” says Koo. Nonetheless, on Koo’s final boba run, she didn’t discover any indicators of a boba scarcity or value will increase on the retailer.
Whereas final week’s reported boba scarcity will have an effect on some tea outlets, the bulk is not going to be impacted past short-term disruptions brought on by latest hoarding reasonably than provide chain points. Boba drinkers can relaxation assured that there shall be boba accessible the following time they go to their favourite store.

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