Blantyre residents have decried the low supply of local tea on the market, a situation that is forcing them to buy imported tea products.
A visit to some shops in the city has revealed that most of the major selling outlets are flooded with imported tea, especially from Kenya.
Tea sellers in the city’s main markets of Limbe and Blantyre have also run out of the local commodity with customers in Limbe depending on one supplier of tea.
In an interview with Business Review, the supplier, Robert Jonasi, who said he buys the commodity from small-holder tea growers in Thyolo, attributed the scarcity to poor harvest that tea growers around the area have experienced this growing season.
“I have no option, but to sell people low quality tea,” he said.
Tea scarcity on the local market is also a result of low supply by the country’s main tea blender and packer, Chombe Foods Company, which has drastically decreased supplying the local market over the past four months.
In an interview, Chombe Tea general manager Gracian Thomas said the shortage of production materials is one of the factors that has affected the company’s production.
Thomas could not confirm if poor harvests have contributed to low supply of the product on the market.
“I can confirm that we have run out of production materials currently and that is why we are failing to bring Chombe brand on the market.
“We need to import most of the material such as packaging paper from Italy, China and India and [it] has not been easy to acquire the material due to other reasons beyond our control,” he said.
But Thomas assured Malawians that by the end of August, a consignment of packaging materials will be in the country and normal supplies will resume.
Meanwhile tea vendors such as Jonasi will continue to cash in on the shortage.