Afternoon Coffee: Cyberattack shuts down largest meat processor in US; Coronavirus outbreak closes one of world’s busiest ports; Chlorine shortage being dubbed ‘Poolmageddon’

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A cyberattack on the world’s largest meat processor led to the shutdown of nine beef plants in the United States on Tuesday, another in a string of ransomware attacks on critical US businesses, according to the New York Times.

The cyberattack on JBS' meat plants might disrupt the nation’s meat markets while raising questions about the vulnerability of American businesses. JBS is expected to reopen Wednesday, but one day’s disruption could “significantly impact” wholesale beef prices.

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The JBS attack was the second recent attack to freeze up a critical US business operation in the last few weeks. Last month, a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline triggered a gas shortage and panic buying.

“Retailers and beef processors are coming from a long weekend and need to catch up with orders and make sure to fill the meat case,” analysts for Daily Livestock Report wrote in a report, the NYT said. “If they suddenly get a call saying that product may not deliver tomorrow or this week, it will create very significant challenges in keeping plants in operation and the retail case stocked up.”

Coronavirus outbreak in China closes one of world’s busiest ports

One of the world’s busiest ports is expecting to see shipment delays because of a COVID-19 outbreak that led to closures of some facilities, according to the South China Morning Post.

Cargo leaving the Yantian Port in China will require reservations. It’s the export and industrial hub of Shenzhen in southern China. The container yard of the port was partly shut last week after a coronavirus outbreak among port staff and community members, the article said.

With a cargo throughput of 13.34 million in 2020, it’s one of the busiest ports in the world. It serves 100 ships a week, and the disruption is expected to last into the coming week. Delays are likely to put even more pressure on the already high costs of shipping goods from China, which have soared for demand, a shortage of containers and other factors.

Chlorine crisis being dubbed ‘Poolmageddon’

Pool owners are facing the worst chlorine shortage the US has ever seen, according to CNBC.

The shortage is widespread and set to get worse, driving chlorine prices even higher. Homeowners are prepping their pools for the season, but an unprecedented surge in demand and a chemical plant fire is leading to scarcity.

Chlorine is used to fight bacteria in swimming pools that cause illnesses. With few alternatives, it’s looking like prices will soar before the industry runs out. One Florida writer is calling it “Poolmageddon,” CNBC said.

″[I expect pool owners] will have to go from tablets to powdered chlorine, from powdered chlorine to liquid chlorine, from liquid chlorine to nonchlorinated shocks and things,” a pool maintenance company owner, Allan Curtis, told CNBC. “And I do believe that all of those are going to literally run out.”

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