Hackers partly to blame for current cream cheese shortage


An online schmear campaign is partly to blame for this curdling situation. 

The cream cheese shortage currently spreading supplies thin — and even halting production at Brooklyn cheesecake institution Junior’s — was apparently bolstered by a cyberattack on one of the biggest cheese manufacturers in America.

Many New Yorkers may not have heard of Wisconsin’s Schreiber Foods, but the company is key to the schmear supply chain. So when hackers toasted its plants and distribution centers with an October cyberattack, that forced the company to close for days — and it had a slicing impact on a key ingredient in many borough breakfasts and desserts, Bloomberg reported

Indeed, government data shows that cream cheese production fell by 6.9% in October, compared to last year’s schmear output. 

To add insult to injury, the lactose-intolerable criminals creamed production at the peak time of year for cream cheese demand, when more cheese-based cakes are baked in the US for the holidays. The current dairy dearth impacting bagel purveyors citywide also was spurred on by shortages of truck drivers, manufacturing sector labor and packaging supplies, as well as increased demand for at-home cream cheese consumption.

“All this together has aggravated the cream cheese situation in the country,” Emma Aer, chief executive producer of Franklin Foods (a Schreiber Foods competitor), told Bloomberg. “We just can’t keep up with the demand.”

While cream cheese may feel like a stalwart spread to many NYC residents, it is particularly vulnerable to the supply chain issues that have backed up so many other products over the course of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

That is due to the beloved bagel topper being a fresh product — maintaining a large inventory is simply not possible — and having additional licensing requirements regarding distribution, Cornell University agricultural economist Andrew Novakovic told Bloomberg. 

cream cheese shortage cyberattack
Junior’s restaurant in Times Square, which had been closed during the pandemic, officially re-opened on May 6, 2021.
Getty Images

For bagel-lovers, there is little to do but wait and hope that the schmear shortage subsides by the end of the year. 

“Bagels on a Sunday with a schmear is one thing, but Christmas without cheesecake is another,” Junior’s owner Alan Rosen told the publication.

cream cheese shortage cyberattack
Bountiful cheesecake in better times.
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