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West Coast shipping backup leading to nationwide boba shortage, reports say

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Posted at 12:21 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 15:23:20-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Boba fans across the country may find it difficult to find the delicious tapioca treat to their drinks for the time being.

Industry leaders tell the San Francisco Chronicle that shipping containers have been piling up at West Coast ports and delaying delivery of boba shipments to much of the country.

"In the next week or so, tapioca will be a luxury because no one is going to have it," said Tommy Huang, senior sales manager at boba supplier Hayward’s Leadway International Inc., told the Chronicle. "It’s going to take a long time to be able to say we will not have a shortage of tapioca."

Huang added that he expects the supply to normalize in two months at most.

In a video posted on Instagram, owners of Hayward-based U.S. Boba Co. Andrew Chau and Bin Chen said that the "industry-wide shortage" has lead to some shops being completely out of boba, and that "others will run out in the next few weeks."

"99% of boba comes from overseas. 'But I thought you make your own boba?' True. Our boba is domestically produced to ensure transparency and better sourcing (hence our premium-quality positioning) but we are still running out of starch which comes from Thailand," the company said on Instagram.

As for the U.S. Boba Co., Chau and Chen say they will be in "flux for several months until we get our next series of tapioca starch shipments."

The two say that a shipment usually takes about a month to travel across the Pacific Ocean, clear customs, and leave the docks, but that is now taking months.