JBS’ operations in North America and Australia have been affected by what the company has called “an organised cybersecurity attack”. The meatpacker’s business in Australia has seen its operations shut down, while production has been hit at sites across the US.

Yesterday (1 June), a spokesperson for the White House said JBS had told the US government the ransom demand “came from a criminal organisation likely based in Russia”.

Later in the day, in a filing with Brazil’s stock market, JBS said its US units JBS USA and Pilgrim’s had said they had made “significant progress in resolving the cyberattack that has impacted the company’s operations in North America and Australia”.

“In the US today, JBS USA and Pilgrim’s were able to ship product from nearly all of its facilities to supply customers. The company also continues to make progress in resuming plant operations in the US and Australia. Several of the company’s pork and poultry plants were operational today and its Canada beef facility resumed production,” the company added.

“Systems are coming back online and JBS USA is not sparing any resources to fight this threat. Given the progress IT professionals and plant teams have made in the last 24 hours, the vast majority of the beef, pork, poultry and prepared foods plants will be operational tomorrow.”

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JBS added: “Operations in Mexico and the UK were not impacted and are conducting business as normal.”

Among the plants affected in the US is JBS’ processing facility in Greeley, Colorado. Yesterday, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 7 told Just Food two shifts at the factory had been cancelled “due to the cyber attack”.

Earlier this morning, the union said the Greeley plant had one of its shifts “scheduled for a regular production day” today.

The US Department of Agriculture said it was monitoring the situation closely to “offer help and assistance to mitigate any potential supply or price issues”. It added: “As part of that effort, USDA has reached out to several major meat processors in the United States to ensure they are aware of the situation, encouraging them to accommodate additional capacity where possible, and to stress the importance of keeping supply moving.”

JBS describes itself as “the largest protein producer in the world”. The company processes beef, pork, lamb and chicken, as well as having a presence in the growing meat-alternative market.

As well as in North America and Australia, JBS has operations across multiple countries in Latin America and in Europe.

In 2020, JBS generated net revenue of BRL270.2bn (US$52.44bn), up 32.1% on a year earlier. Higher tax expenses contributed to a 24.2% drop in net income to BRL4.6bn.