(CNN) — This year, hackers have unleashed cyberattacks against pipelines, ferries, meatpacking plants, and even police departments. And now they come for the cream cheese.
In October, a cyberattack on the largest US cheese maker contributed to a nationwide cream cheese shortage shortly before the holidays, Bloomberg News reported, putting holiday treats in jeopardy for millions.
Bloomberg reported that the attack targeted plants and distribution centers. As a result, Wisconsin-based Schreiber Foods was unable to fully operate for several days, just as it was heading into its peak period before the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas holidays.
The company is one of the nation’s largest marketers of dairy products, including slices of cheese, yogurt and the all-important cream cheese, with annual sales of more than $ 5 billion.
The brutally timed attack compounded existing problems: Schreiber Foods said all cream cheese producers were already struggling to maintain an adequate supply.
Even before peak demand for cyber attacks and holidays, manufacturers were struggling due to labor shortages and supply chain disruptions for raw materials, packaging, and trucking. Cream cheese is not like other products that can be stored.
No one has large quantities on hand, and there certainly isn’t a strategic reserve for cream cheese like there is for oil in the United States and maple syrup in Canada.
“While that event [ciberataque] It definitely didn’t help things, it’s actually world events that are the biggest driver of what’s happening with cream cheese, “said Andrew Tobisch, director of communications for Schreiber Foods.
The company said it expects the shortage to be short-lived, Tobisch said. But it will take “a little longer” to figure it out, he added, although he did not provide a time frame.
Last year, demand for cream cheese increased 18% compared to 2019 as more people baked at home during closings. Kraft said it remained at that high level in 2021.
The cream cheese shortage has pushed restaurants and vendors to be creative. For example, Kraft (KHC), which owns Philadelphia cream cheese, recently said it would reimburse some customers who buy a different dessert because they can’t find cream cheese in time to make the Christmas cheesecake.
And Junior’s Cheesecake in New York, which typically consumes 1,814,369 pounds of cream cheese a year to make its flagship product, has been forced to occasionally pause production of its famous cheesecakes due to shortages. New York City bagel shops have also reportedly had trouble getting enough supply.
CNN’s Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism