Cream cheese shortage stemmed partially from cyberattack

A top producer of cream cheese says a cyberattack shut down its production for days.

Bree Fowler Senior Writer
Bree Fowler writes about cybersecurity and digital privacy. Before joining CNET she reported for The Associated Press and Consumer Reports. A Michigan native, she's a long-suffering Detroit sports fan, world traveler, two star marathoner and champion baker of over-the-top birthday cakes and all-things sourdough.
Expertise Cybersecurity, Digital Privacy, IoT, Consumer Tech, Running and Fitness Tech, Smartphones, Wearables
Bree Fowler

The ongoing schmear shortage in places like New York was in part the result of a cyberattack.

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The cream cheese shortage currently hitting bagel shops was partially caused by a cyberattack that shut down production at one of the country's top producers of the popular spread.

Bloomberg reports that Wisconsin-based Schreiber Foods closed for days in October after cybercriminals compromised its plants and distribution centers. The lost production at such a large company was apparently enough to throw US schmear markets completely out of whack.

Earlier reported by The New York Times, the shortage comes at the height of the holiday baking season, though it's worth mentioning that the cream cheese used by bagel shops and bakeries is a raw product that's different from the little boxes or tubs an average person would buy at the grocery store. 

Combined with COVID-related logistical issues, not enough specialized truckers, a general labor shortage and the fact that cream cheese is a fresh product so there aren't huge reserves, that's a recipe for disaster.

The attack is just the latest to factor into a large-scale disruption of the US supply chain. Earlier this year, both Colonial Pipeline and JBS USA were hit with ransomware attacks. They both paid millions to get their data back, but were still forced to shut down their production for days.

Gasoline prices on the East Coast spiked after the shutdown at Colonial Pipeline prompted a run on gas stations, while meat prices jumped as a result of the attack on JBS.