JBS USA CEO Andre Nogueira said Tuesday that he expects the "vast majority" of the company’s processing facilities to be operational within the next day following a cyberattack that forced the world’s largest meat producer to shut down all of its US beef plants.
Officials from JBS and its subsidiary Pilgrim’s said they have made "significant progress" in their efforts to resolve the ransomware attack. Nogueira said JBS USA’s "systems are coming back online," adding the company is using all available resources to restore normal operations.
"We have cybersecurity plans in place to address these types of issues and we are successfully executing those plans," Nogueira said in a statement. "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 tomorrow."
JBS USA is the American branch of the world’s largest meat producer, Brazil-based JBS SA. The company shut down all nine of its beef plants after uncovering what it described as an "organized cybersecurity attack" impacting its computer systems in North America and Australia.
JBS said it was "able to ship product from nearly all of its facilities to supply customers" on Tuesday despite the interruption to its operations. The company’s pork plants remained operational.
The company noted it had received "strong support" from government officials in the US, Australia and Canada as part of efforts to maintain the food supply chain. JBS produces roughly one-quarter of US beef supplies.
"I want to personally thank the White House, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Australian and Canadian governments for their assistance over the last two days," Nogueira added.
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents more than 25,000 JBS employees, urged JBS to maintain full pay for workers despite the shutdowns. JBS executives have yet to say whether they will honor that request.
Interruptions to JBS’ US operations raised concerns about a potential meat shortage in the coming days. The Department of Agriculture said it was working closely with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and JBS USA to "mitigate any potential supply or price issues."
"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," the USDA said. "USDA has also been in contact with several food, agriculture and retail organizations to underscore the importance of maintaining close communication and working together to ensure a stable, plentiful food supply."
The White House said a criminal group likely based in Russia is thought to be responsible for the ransomware attack.