14ymedio, Havana, 8 January 2021 — In the absence of domestic pork and despite the “tightening of the blockade” that the Government invokes from time to time, Cuba almost doubled its chicken imports from the United States in 2021.
Between January and November of last year the country bought 252.8 million dollars worth of American chicken meat, according to data from the Department of Agriculture released by Washington and shared this Friday by Cuban economist Pedro Monreal.
The value of US chicken imports in that 11-month period is 76% higher than the total purchases for the entire previous year, which reached 143.7 million dollars. Chicken was once again the highest volume food that the US sells to Havana with 276,774 tons as of November.
A record was set in April when more than $30 million worth of chicken was bought. September was the month with the lowest imports (almost $17.6 million worth), and there was a rebound in November, with more than $25 million in sales. Most likely, the data for December, which will be announced later, are also very high since, given the shortage of pork for the Christmas holidays, the Government invited the population to consume chicken. Once the December sales are included, everything indicates that Cuba will have bought almost twice as much chicken from the US in 2021 than it did in 2020.
In addition, there was a slight increase in the value of the price per kilo from 0.93 US cents in October to 0.94 a month later. However, the rise in the price of this product had been increasing since months earlier. In August a kilo was going for 0.86 cents and by September it was already 0.89. Chicken is sold in state stores, where it is scarce, for 90 pesos for a 2-kilo bag and, in the informal market, it goes for 350 pesos for the same amount.
“Poultry meat is, by a considerable margin, the number one food imported by Cuba, and it is a product for which there is very little supply capacity of domestic origin,” Monreal wrote at the end of the year, based on recent statistics from the Government of the Island that indicated an annual expenditure of 319.2 million dollars in imports of this meat, which comes from the United States and Brazil.
At the end of October, US food exports to Cuba had doubled in the last year and increased by six-fold in the last two years. Purchases amounted to 22,271,632 dollars, 91% more than in the same month of 2020, when the amount amounted to 11,607,415 dollars, and 501% more than in October 2019, when the amount was 3,704,369 dollars.
The data, extracted from the advance of a report by the Economic and Commercial Council, revealed that the products most bought by the Island from its northern neighbor continue to be chicken (frozen hindquarters, breast and thighs), calcium phosphate, rice and fruit.
Between 2001 and 2020, Washington sent 2.48 million tons of chicken meat worth 2,088 million dollars to Havana.
According to a report by the US International Trade Commission published in April 2016, the country is among the top ten suppliers of food products to Cuba thanks to the 2000 rule that allows it to carry out direct commercial imports of some foods and agricultural inputs, as long as they are paid for in advance and in cash, due to the prohibition of granting credit to the Island in accordance with the embargo laws.
Despite this, chicken, one of the most purchased foods at the national level, still does not reach the population regularly and sufficiently, and people are forced to spend hours in lines to be able to stock up on this product. In addition, in the last two years, chicken has also become one of the most sought after foods in markets where pork appears less and less and at stratospheric prices.
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