Meatpacker JBS says all facilities operating after weekend cyberattack

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: JBS USA Worthington pork plant in Minnesota

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) -All of meatpacker JBS SA’s global facilities are fully operational after a weekend cyberattack disrupted much of its North American and Australian operations, the company said on Thursday.

The Brazilian meatpacker’s arm in the United States and Pilgrim’s Pride, a U.S. chicken company mostly owned by JBS, lost less than one day’s worth of food production following the hack, according to a statement. It said the losses will be recovered by the end of next week.

JBS has recovered faster than some meat buyers and market analysts expected from the May 30 ransomware attack, which the White House linked to a Russia-based group.

The attack followed one last month by a group with ties to Russia on Colonial Pipeline, which crippled fuel delivery for several days in the U.S. Southeast.

JBS voluntarily shut down all its systems to isolate the intrusion upon learning of the attack, which failed to infect encrypted backup servers, according to the statement.

“The criminals were never able to access our core systems, which greatly reduced potential impact,” said Andre Nogueira, chief executive of JBS USA.

U.S. beef prices initially jumped as the attack tightened supplies. However, American consumers should not see a lasting impact on prices “if the situation continues to resolve quickly,” a U.S. Department of Agriculture official said.

“The market is moving toward normalization,” the official said.

JBS on Tuesday halted cattle slaughtering at its U.S. plants, which process nearly a quarter of America’s beef, according to union officials.

By Thursday, the number of cattle slaughtered by U.S. processors including JBS was up 27% from Tuesday and 14% from Wednesday, according to USDA estimates.

Last year, the U.S. meat supply chain buckled as COVID-19 outbreaks closed slaughterhouses, reducing production and raising prices.

“We need to invest in a food system that is durable, distributed and better equipped to withstand 21st century challenges, including cybersecurity threats and other disruptions,” the USDA official said.

(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago and Siddharth Cavale in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Grant McCool)