FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) — The popular and trendy drink known as boba is the latest of many products that are being stalled at California ports.
What is boba?
The word boba describes the chewy black spheres at the bottom of the drink made from tapioca. It is also used to describe the drink itself.
In 2020, Yelp declared boba tea as the most popular delivery item early in the Coronavirus pandemic in several U.S. States including California.
What is behind the shortage?
Boba shop owners are attributing the shortage to a shipping backlog. Both the boba balls and the tapioca starch used to make them are usually shipped from Thailand and are getting caught up in significant shipping backlogs on both the east and west coasts of the U.S., according to Marketwatch.
The shipping lags can be blamed on a mix of bad weather, pandemic-related logistical issues and increased general demand as consumer spending rebounds.
In an Instagram post, Boba Guys, a boba tea company with a flagship store in San Francisco that is also is one of the few U.S. based boba producers, said it could take months for the boba tea supply to get back on track and shops are already starting to run out.
How are local boba businesses responding?
Boba Silog in north Fresno specializes in making traditional boba drinks with a Filipino twist. Since they get their boba from a distributor overseas, they are seeing a 5% to 10% increase in costs. However, they do not plan on raising the prices of their drinks any time soon.
Sweet Lyfe Boba Bar near Fresno State takes the traditional drink and puts a fun and colorful twist on it. Owner Trinity Huynh says they source their boba in the U.S. even though there are very few U.S.- based distributors. The shortage does not affect their business now, but Huynh says since one of the ingredients for boba is usually shipped from overseas, it may pose a problem in the future.