At the height of seasonal cream cheese demand, persisting supply chain issues and a cyberattack has left many New York restaurants facing a cream cheese shortage. Across the city, restaurants having been scrambling to find raw materials to make their own cream cheese spreads.
The cream cheese pandemonium is said to be in part due to a cyberattack on the largest US cheese manufacturer – Schreiber Foods in the state of Wisconsin.
According to the New York Times Schreiber Foods had to close down for a number of days in October after operations were halted at its plants and distribution centres due to a “cyber event”.
The cheese manufacturer makes slices for most of the top burger chains in America and has a cream cheese business which is one of the nation’s major suppliers.
However, a different problem is also believed to have had a hand in a shortage hitting a city which is one of the country’s most popular bagel destinations. A packaging supply problem which started months ago is also taking blame.
Reports have surfaced about manufacturers like Kraft running out of the plastic used to make cream cheese tubs. According to CBS New York the issue is not with cream cheese itself, but rather with the plastic tubes used to deliver it to stores and bakeries.
What is making matters worse is that the shutdown occurred at the height of demand. Americans are doing more holiday baking and buying more cakes, and cream cheese is a common dessert ingredient.
“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,” she said of the industry.
What has been the impact?
Anthony Teutonico, who owns Heartland Bagels on Staten Island, told Fox News his distributor’s inability to get their hands on packaging is costing his business money. Some days, he said he has to go out and find the supply himself.
“You can’t get a bagel without cream cheese,” he told Fox News.
Another store’s general manager even told the New York Times he’s resorted to begging, while another said they only have enough cream cheese to last them roughly three days.
Meanwhile Joe Yemma, co-owner of F&H Dairies, said his once fully stocked cold room now has nothing.
“Usually this is just wall-to-wall bulk cream cheese, all along the racks and along the floor, and it’s just nothing. We usually have 15 pounds at a time. This is zero, zero cases,” Yemma said.
At the moment it seems that the affected parties are mostly bagel shops, although there have been a few reports of grocery store shortages in New York City and beyond.
It couldn’t come at a worse time since November and December are the busiest months of the year for the company, Junior’s Cheesecake third-generation owner, Alan Rosen, told USA Today.
For the first time in its 71 year history, the production line for Junior’s Cheesecake sputtered and came to a halt on Friday, Dec. 3.
Rosen’s company gets its yearly 4 million pounds of cream cheese from Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Between supplying cheesecakes for its mail-order business, its restaurants and around 8,000 supermarkets across the country, Junior’s Cheesecakes uses around 40,000 pounds of cream cheese in a day and a half, according to Rosen.
He said, “it could be some time before things return to normal for Junior’s Cheesecake… The intermittent supply issue could take up to the three months to level off.”
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