Imagine waking up one morning and going to your local bagel shop for a freshly baked bagel. You ask for there to be a perfect amount of cream cheese in the middle, and the person behind the counter says, sorry, we are all out of cream cheese. Or, you go to your family Christmas party, expecting for there to be a decadent cheesecake on the table waiting for you to cut a slice. To your surprise, there is none. This may sound foolish, but it is becoming a reality.
Stress on the Supply Chain
In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic initially slowed the global supply chain as manufacturers suspended work until safety precautions were enacted. Despite unsure predictions from businesses for the next year, global trade continued at a reduced capacity and never did fully recover. New challenges in 2021 such as COVID-19 variants and reduced access to the COVID-19 vaccine in developing countries kept the supply chain from bouncing back again, which has now led to the supply chain crisis that the world is facing.
Supply chain issues have plagued the United States for months, causing scarcities of everything from cars to running shoes. The supply-chain crisis is evidently the result of COVID-19 disruptions paired with a spike in demand. Shortages of workers, equipment, and space have only made the issue worse.
“At this point, shortages are guaranteed… We’ve been warning consumers to manage their expectations for the holiday shopping season for months now” said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain policy at the National Retail Federation. With the supply chain stretched to its limit from end-to-end, products that are normally easily attainable are becoming harder to find.
Who, and What, Is Affected?
One of the many surprising products that is increasingly becoming unavailable for consumers is cream cheese. Businesses across America announced difficulty in getting a hold of enough cream cheese to satisfy their customers’ wants. Kraft Heinz, a major corporation that produces the cream-cheese base used by many shops, cites a spike in demand for its products.
“I’ve never been out of cream cheese for 30 years,” Joseph Yemma, owner of Brooklyn-based dairy product distributor F&H Dairies, stated. “There’s no end in sight.”
Varrelmann’s Bake Shop, found locally on Park Avenue in Rutherford, is one of the many businesses experiencing a shortage of cream cheese. Kathy, both the owner and baker at Varrelmann’s bakery, recently stated that “Restaurant Depot usually has a massive shelf stocked with cream cheese. When I went to stock up for the holiday rush, there was nothing… in a bind I tried to order some off of Amazon to make cheesecakes especially, and one three pound block was around fifty dollars.”
But it’s not just bakeries that are being negatively influenced by this shortage. Bagel shops have also been struggling, with countless customers scrambling to purchase a bagel with cream cheese in between each half.
Scott Goldshine, the general manager at Zabar’s, a popular bagel shop in New York City, estimated that he only had enough cream cheese to last 10 days. “Begging is one of my plans, which I have done, and it’s helped,” Mr. Goldshine said, adding that he had called about eight distributors in recent days. “If anybody’s got it, let them call me.”
At Tompkins Square Bagels, cream cheese is also scarce. “We have espresso, jalapeño cheddar, birthday cake, [cream cheese]” added Christopher Pugliese of Tompkins Square Bagels. ” What we have will only last days.”
Sure, there is butter. And tofu cream cheese. And plenty of delicious bagel sandwiches require no cream cheese at all, such as a bacon egg and cheese sandwich. But for the people who want cream cheese, which is a lot of people, of course, cream cheese impostors are unacceptable. No substitution can reasonably compete with cream cheese, it is just too unique. Hopefully, this shortage comes to an end soon, and we can all enjoy a slice of cheesecake or a cream cheese bagel without any trouble in the near future.