Cream Cheese Shortage Hits Long Island’s Bagel Shops

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The quintessentially New York diet of a bagel with cream cheese may become coronavirus’ next victim. 

A supply chain shortage has been plaguing the world since the onset of the pandemic. Now, cream cheese is next on the list of increasingly scarce items. The lack of the delicious New York necessity is becoming a reality for bagel shops across Long Island. 

“It’s very, very, very bad,” Rolando Duchimaza, owner of Joels Bagels in Medford, said. “I only have about six cases left that will probably last me by Monday.”

Philadelphia cream cheese, manufactured by Kraft Heinz Foodservice, is a key component. Bagel shops often buy the dairy blocks in bulk, using them as a base. The next steps include whipping it and adding a variety of flavors in-house. 

“We’re trying to order extra to stock up, but it’s a perishable item so it’s very difficult to do,” said Vadim Nayman, owner of Bagel Master in Syosset, who has been in constant communication with his dairy distributor. “They’re telling me they’re going to be able to get but it may be an increased price.”

Increased prices on goods are an inevitable consequence of the global supply chain shortage. Since the coronavirus began in early 2020, laborers in factories and ports, as well as truck drivers decreased. Demand for products, however, continues to increase as people resume their pre-pandemic shopping patterns. 

Less product availability for distribution fosters inflation. In October, the US annual inflation rate was 6.2 percent, the highest since 1990. Food inflation rose to 5.3 percent. 

Insufficient supplies and high prices don’t come as a surprise to owners of Long Island bagel shops. Many say the cream cheese shortage is the latest from the bout of pandemic-related shortage issues. 

“I just spent 100 dollars on lids, a case of lids for just our cups,” Chris Carley, owner of Strathmore Bagels in Ronkonkoma, said. “It’s hard to even gauge where your profit is because of the fact that things are changing on the fly all the time.”

While Carley says they still have extra cream cheese in stock at the moment, Strathmore Bagels might have to ration the amount that customers receive if the shortage continues. The uncertainty of the supply chain crisis leaves local restaurateurs pondering their next steps.

“My philosophy is we can’t stress out too much because it is what it is,” Duchimaza said. “There is nothing that you or I can do.”

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