The world’s largest supplier of meat was forced to temporarily halt operations.
JBS, a Brazil-based meat production company, is the largest supplier of meat products in the entire world; their US operations alone make up a fifth of the entire country’s meat-making capacity. This is why it was so alarming that that fifth suddenly ground to halt on Tuesday when JBS was hit with a ransomware cyber attack in a manner eerily similar to the attack on the Colonial Pipeline.
On Tuesday, meat production was forced to stop at 13 of JBS’ plants around the US after their networks were seized by a currently unidentified criminal hacker group believed to be based out of Russia. JBS has been working to regain control over their systems and are expecting to have operations up and running in most of the plants again by the end of today. When the attack hit, JBS requested aid from the FBI, who are currently conducting an investigation into the origin of the hack.
“We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans,” JBS USA CEO Andre Nogueira said. “Given the progress our IT professionals and plant teams have made in the last 24 hours, the vast majority of our beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational [Wednesday].”
Brazil-based JBS, the world’s largest meat company by sales, was hit by a ransomware attack, raising pressure on a food-supply chain already under strain and potentially leading to higher consumer prices #WSJWhatsNow pic.twitter.com/QTQgSAtCGx
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) June 2, 2021
Because JBS is the largest producer of beef in the US, as well as the second-largest producer of pork and poultry, economists are concerned that this stoppage could have detrimental impacts on the country’s already-strained food supply chains. Depending on how long it takes JBS to restore complete control, US supermarkets could see a temporary rise in meat prices.
“I think a lot of that depends upon how long this lasts. If indeed, JBS is unable to slaughter cattle or hogs over a sustained period and really even a matter of days, then yes, because the production is limited greatly,” said co-owner of Kooima Kooima Varilek Trading Brad Kooima.