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Concerns Over Meat Supply Ebb as JBS Plants Reopen After Cyberattack


SYDNEY—Production at

JBS SA

JBSAY -0.33%

meat-processing plants in Australia is coming back online faster than authorities had expected after the ransomware attack on the company this week, the country’s agriculture minister said Thursday.

Authorities hope the plants will be operating at close to full production rates by early next week, with those in the north of the country likely to be the last to ramp up, said

David Littleproud,

Australia’s agriculture minister.

“We are looking as though we’ve got a good trajectory to get there,” he said. “Obviously, there’s still a lot of variables.”

Andre Nogueira,

chief executive of JBS’s U.S. operations, said on Wednesday that most of the company’s beef facilities in Australia and the U.S. had resumed work.

The attack on JBS this week forced offline plants that account for roughly a quarter of Australia’s red-meat processing. In the U.S., plants that process nearly a quarter of beef and a fifth of pork production were disrupted, pushing up wholesale meat prices while complicating livestock deliveries from farms.

The outages are the latest blow to the U.S. meatpacking industry that is also contending with labor shortages and high costs for transport and animal feed. In Australia, the industry has separately been grappling with reduced livestock following a prolonged drought.

Mr. Littleproud said the faster-than-expected restart to production has damped earlier concerns in the market of potential shortages in Australia, which exports more than two-thirds of its beef and veal to markets including the U.S., Japan and South Korea.

“In Australia we have significant supply available,” he said.

Still, authorities want JBS to demonstrate that their computer systems are properly functioning to guarantee quality assurance, Mr. Littleproud said.

“People are pretty relieved that it seems to be resolved and they can go back and do their jobs next week,” said Matt Journeaux, an official at the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union. “No one really knew how long it was going to take.”

A cyberattack on the U.S.’s largest fuel pipeline on May 7 forced a shutdown that triggered a spike in gas prices and shortages in parts of the Southeast. WSJ explains just how vulnerable the nation’s critical energy infrastructure is to attack. Photo illustration: Liz Ornitz/WSJ

Write to David Winning at david.winning@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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