If you’re a holiday baker or just a bagel fan, you’ve probably heard that cream cheese is in limited supply in New York in the US. According to the New York Times, bagel stores in the city have only a few days’ worth of supplies on hand, with “no end in sight” for when the weather improves.
Some of the issues are related to shipping logistics, which have been affecting store shelves for months due to a shortage of drivers and trucks. And, as Cornell University agricultural economist Andrew Novakovic told Bloomberg, dairy shipments require an additional licence to transport produce from farms to processors to store shelves.
Packaging concerns are also being blamed, with Novakovic stating that plastic film and cardboard have been difficult to come by.
However, rather than dairy issues, the major issue may be digital. Schreiber Foods, a Wisconsin-based company that distributes cheese slices to burger joints and competes with Kraft Foods in terms of cream cheese production capacity, was the victim of a cyberattack just as it was ramping up processing for the holiday rush.
Inflation has driven prices to decade highs, and cyberattacks have contributed to the turmoil gripping global food supply networks in the Covid-19 age. This year, hackers also attacked JBS SA, a meat company, and an Iowa grain cooperative.
Problems in supply chain
Cream cheese is a product that is particularly prone to supply chain problems. According to Novakovic, some producers have had difficulty obtaining starch, a thickening component used in cream cheese, as well as packaging such as plastic film and cardboard boxes.
Because cream cheese is a perishable item, it’s impossible to have a significant stock on hand. In addition to the general labor shortage, the dairy business is particularly severely impacted because of the additional license required to pick up milk from farms.
According to Bloomberg, the corporation was obliged to shut down lines for a few days. Although the firm has already increased output, the shutdown have already had an impact on the supply chain, according to a company representative.
“All this together has aggravated the cream cheese situation in the country,” said Emma Aer, chief executive officer of competing cream cheese producer Franklin Foods. “We just can’t keep up with the demand.”
The Philadelphia brand’s owner, Kraft Heinz, is promising to repay tens of thousands of holiday consumers $20 for desserts or treats they prepare or buy that don’t include cream cheese.
Its website states, “You may not be able to locate Philly to bake a cheesecake, so get any other dessert on us.”