Your boba tea may be boba-less for months due to US shortage

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“Major boba suppliers in California say they are almost out of boba, and they have no idea when they're going to get more, which means many stores are on their last week, most likely,” says San Francisco Chronicle reporter Janelle Bitker. Photo by Shutterstock.

Boba, those globs of tapioca that go into sweet drinks, are on the brink of running out nationwide. 

Shipping containers from Asia are piling up at West Coast ports, delaying the arrival of those chewy treasures, according to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Janelle Bitker

“If you’re a boba fan, it sounds pretty dire,” she says. “Major boba suppliers in California say they are almost out of boba, and they have no idea when they're going to get more, which means many stores are on their last week, most likely."

Bitker says 99% of the boba consumed in the U.S. is imported from Taiwan. The U.S. Boba Company in Hayward, California, is the only domestic factory that makes boba, but they’re having a hard time too.

“They can't get tapioca starch, which is the key ingredient for the tapioca balls. Those are also stuck on the water outside Oakland,” she says.

Boba shops have taken off in the U.S over the past few decades, and Bitker says it’s now estimated to be a $2 billion industry.

How long will the shortage last? Some suppliers predict a couple of weeks, but others say it could be as long as four months before shops have a reliable supply again.

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