Why There’s a Cream Cheese Shortage: Supply Chain Woes and Cyberattacks

Delicious Christmas ginger cheesecake with fresh berries decoration.
KateSmirnova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

The supply chain disruptions and cybersecurity attacks plaguing the global economy for most of the year have now claimed an unlikely victim — cream cheese. 

Schreiber Foods in Wisconsin, a top maker of cream cheese, closed for days in October after hackers compromised plants and distribution centers, Bloomberg reports. While a cyber attack on a cream cheese factory might sound innocuous enough, the company produces a large enough output of dairy products that the lost production shook U.S. markets. 

Dairy producers are the latest targets in a string of cyberattacks after meat giant JBS was attacked earlier this year and put a halt to a large portion of the nation’s meat supply. 

The attack on the dairy company comes strategically at a time where demand is at its highest of the year. To add to the strain, cream cheese happens to be particularly vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. Some manufacturers have had a difficult time obtaining a thickening starch agent used in cream cheese, as well as packaging like plastic films and cardboard boxes, Bloomberg adds.

Unfortunately, cream cheese is a fresh ingredient and cannot be held in large quantities in storage, meaning that there needs to be a balance of production with demand. The combination of supply chain issues and cyberattacks with increased holiday demand has put enough pressure on cream cheese producers that they’ve needed to come up with alternative solutions. 

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Philadelphia, the company behind Philadelphia cream cheese, is offering $20 to up to 18,000 people if they’re unable to find cream cheese to make a holiday cheesecake. The money is technically a reimbursement that can be used to buy other baked goods to make alternative holiday desserts.

The combined cyber attacks and supply chain woes also come at a time where at-home cream cheese consumption is up 18% compared to 2019 and foodservice demand in November up 75% compared to last year according to Kraft Heinz (Philadelphia parent company) spokesperson Kathy Krenger.

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