Cuba Imported Nine Times More Chicken Meat From the US in March Than the State Produced in 2022

The tons purchased in the first quarter of 2024 are double the total annual production of the Island

Arrival of American chicken at the El Vedado Youth Labor Army market in Havana. / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 10 May 2024 — “The tons imported from the US in the first quarter of 2024 double the total annual production of chicken meat in Cuba.” This devastating phrase was posted by the economist Pedro Monreal this Thursday in his X account. The expert, who contributes monthly figures for the purchases of this bird’s meat by the State and the private sector, does not stop there and leaves another clarifying fact about the situation of food insecurity in Cuba. “The amount is almost nine times greater than the annual production of national poultry companies,” according to the most recent data, from 2022, he adds.

In fact, Cuba produced 37,200 tons of chicken meat throughout that year, half of the amount imported from the United States in the first three months of 2024. This March, 26,413 tons of the product arrived from the neighboring country, 62% more than in February, when the quantity was 16,244 tons. In January, 30,678 tons were purchased, the largest amount so far this year, placing the quarterly total at 73,335.

If we look only at the state sector, the situation is even worse. In 2022, the regime’s companies produced only 8,200 tons, a number – as the expert points out in his tweet – one-ninth of that imported until April 2024 to be marketed by both State entities and cooperatives or MSMEs. These numbers put the finishing touch to those that were known this Tuesday from the manufacturing industry , which reveal a drop in the production of processed foods of 67% in the last five years and leave very serious figures, such as the 90% collapse in the production of rice or 91% in pork.

This March, a kilogram of chicken imported from the US had a cost of $1.11 US, which represents a decrease of 8% compared to February, when the price was $1.21 dollars. However, the strong increase in purchase volume meant that spending grew by 49.22% compared to that month. While 19.7 million dollars were invested in February, in the third month of the year the expenditure was 29.42 million dollars.

Thus, January volumes are relatively recovered, which left the sixth highest historical value since records exist, that is, 2002.

The data comes a few days after the figures for imported vehicles were revealed, also from the US. According to the Cuba-US Economic and Commercial Council (CubaTrade), between 2023 and the first quarter of 2024, sales amounted to 20 million dollars, mostly in used cars. So far this year, Cubans have spent more than 13.5 million dollars on the acquisition of these cars, while in 2023 the amount exceeded 4.3 million.

This business, authorized by Joe Biden’s administration in 2023, is experiencing a strong boom; just between January and February of this year the growth was 65%, notes economist Eloy Vieira. As this newspaper published last April, there is a ship, the Linda , that makes regular trips between Miami and Mariel loaded with these vehicles. As of April 1st, the ship had traveled to the Island 21 times, being one of the few that has no problems reaching port, since the money is provided by individuals.

Other data provided by this organization are total food imports, which in March were valued at 40,624,058 dollars, compared to 20,475,934 the previous year, that is, 98.3% more.

The majority of what is imported is, again, chicken, 73% of the total. Pork (3.4%), powdered milk (3.1%) and coffee (1.4%) follow far behind. Other products purchased in smaller amounts are yogurt, eggs, apples, spices, wheat, rice, corn, olive and palm oil. Also included are herring, beet sugar, honey (while the State exports 90% of the honey it produces), along with cookies, beer, salt, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, tires, cellulose and various types of tools.

Despite the embargo, the United States authorized exportsto Cuba worth $7.3 billion in food and medicine since exemptions began to be granted in 2001.


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