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Meat Shortages and Price Hikes Expected After World's Largest Supplier Is Hacked

JBS canceled shifts and halted production after hackers attacked the company's computers on Sunday.

The world's largest meat supply company was forced to shut down slaughterhouses because of a cyber attack over Memorial Day Weekend… and the fallout may lead to shortages and more expensive meat at your local grocery store.

JBS SA canceled shifts and halted production after hackers attacked the company's computer systems on Sunday, according to Bloomberg. JBS is responsible for about 25% of the U.S.'s beef production and 20% of pork, as well as a vast supply of meat in Canada and Australia.

Related: Grocery Shortages To Expect in 2021, According to Experts

"The company took immediate action, suspending all affected systems, notifying authorities and activating the company's global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation," JBS said of the attack in a statement on May 31. "The company's backup servers were not affected, and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible."

It also says no customer, supplier, or employee data was compromised during the attack, but that a total fix will take time and may delay some processes with both customers and suppliers that can end up affecting grocery store shoppers across the country.

While it isn't known how many JBS plants were affected by the hacking, five of the company's biggest U.S. plants halted production, including locations in Utah, Texas, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. Shifts for Tuesday were also canceled. Combined, these five plants process around 22,500 cattle a day, and if the shutdowns continue, it could make the U.S.'s entire meat market unsteady.

Other meat suppliers such as Pilgrim's Pride Corp., the second-largest chicken company in the U.S., also took immediate action by closing some of their locations or cutting back on operations, according to Facebook posts from the plants, reports Bloomberg.

This isn't the only reason burgers, chicken, or hot dogs and bacon will be pricier during your next trip to the grocery store. Low supply and high demand mean prices will be up 25-30%.

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Amanda McDonald
Amanda has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree in digital journalism from Loyola University Chicago. Read more about Amanda