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Cream Cheese Shortage Prompts Kraft to Offer $20 to Customers to not Buy Cheesecakes

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Published: December 17, 2021
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DEC. 06: Cream cheese is displayed on a shelf in a Manhattan grocery store on Dec. 06, 2021 in New York City. According to a news report, many New York City bagel shops and delis are facing a shortage of cream cheese, one of Manhattan’s most popular additions to a bagel. While it is not entirely clear what is causing the shortage, ongoing national supply chain shortages are thought to be part of the cause. (Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Kraft Heinz, the parent company for Philadelphia Cream Cheese, recently announced its “Spread the Feeling” campaign aimed at addressing the shortage of cream cheese in America. The brand is offering a select group of customers an incentive of $20 if they neither buy cheesecakes nor make cakes that contain cream cheese.

The campaign will run until Jan. 4. However, those who wish to participate in the campaign will have to reserve their spots on Dec. 17 or 18. On Dec. 17, 10,000 online reservations will be opened up while on Dec. 18, another 8,000 will be opened. 

Individuals who claim a spot will receive a one-time use link that they can use to buy desserts or dessert ingredients from a store between Dec. 17 and Dec. 24. The individuals will then have to submit the purchase receipt via the link before Jan. 4. The company will deliver the $20 reward within a maximum of four weeks. 

“It’s not an empty shelf — it’s a holiday tradition waiting another year,” says a promotion video for the campaign. “Because having a hard time finding cream cheese on shelves means having a hard time putting cheesecakes on tables. And we get that… So, let’s do this. This year, turn that famous cheesecake into those famous brownies. End your meal with a friendly fight over the last holiday cupcake. Share some cookie.” 

Cream cheese is the latest item to get hit by the supply chain crisis that has resulted in a shortage of goods and an increase in prices. 

Congestion at ports and a lack of workers have tightened production-supply schedules. Another reason for the shortage is that Wisconsin-based Schreiber Foods, a major producer of cream cheese, had to close down production for several days in October due to hacking activity. 

The emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which is said to spread faster than the dominant Delta strain, might worsen the supply chain situation, thus affecting the availability of cream cheese. 

Many companies are now scrambling to secure cream cheese for their production process. One of them is Junior’s Cheesecake. Cream cheese makes up around 85 percent of a cheesecake manufactured by the company. Junior’s use four million pounds of cream cheese a year to make roughly 5 million cheesecakes.

Given that December is usually the company’s busiest month, the shortage of cream cheese couldn’t have come at a worse time, says owner Alan Rosen. The company has run out of cream cheese for the first time in 71 years. Since they cannot use any substitute, the firm is stuck in a position where they cannot produce cheesecakes.

Junior’s has contacted Kraft Heinz for securing the supply of cream cheese. “We’re getting on the phone with them. We’re talking, we’re pleading, we’re moving trucks around where we can,” Rosen said in an interview with CNN.

According to Kraft, they are “maximizing” production in order to meet the “unprecedented” demand. The company is reportedly shipping up to 35 percent more cream cheese to restaurants than it did in 2020.

In a statement to the New York Times, Kraft Heinz spokeswoman Jenna Thornton stated that the company is seeing a spike in demand for a number of categories. “As more people continue to eat breakfast at home and use cream cheese as an ingredient in easy desserts, we expect to see this trend continue,” she said.

Another spokesperson from the company pointed out that at-home cream cheese consumption is up by 18 percent when compared to 2019. Demand from food service is up 75 percent compared to 2020.