14ymedio, Madrid, 9 August 9, 2023 — The sudden increase in the price of a kilo of chicken in the U.S. makes an impact on the import expenses of the Cuban government, which in June paid 32.8 million dollars for the 27,631 tons it bought. Compared to the month of May, spending has increased by 44.7% for the acquisition of just 9.3% more meat, figures that reflect the 33.7% increase in unit value, according to the calculations of Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, who publishes these statistics on a monthly basis.
“Exports of chicken from the U.S. to Cuba oscillate,” he says, “but in the long term they show Cuba’s growing import dependency on the main meat consumed in Cuba.”
This June, the price of each kilo of chicken was $1.19, much higher than in May, when it was barely $0.89. That month, 22.69 million dollars were spent on the purchase.
Despite the high investment, Cuba continues to have its largest supplier in the U.S. market. Brazil, the second in importance, has been losing steam so far this year, which can be seen in the comparison of the first half of 2023, in which 44% less chicken was bought from that South American country, on average, than in the same period of the previous year.
Throughout 2023, Cuba has had difficulty importing the product from other markets that, although they were not the priority ones, contributed to increasing the availability of a meat that has become the most desired on the Island, in the absence of pork and, even more so, of beef.
Spain, Poland and the Netherlands have maintained an irregular flow in this type of trade, but in most of the months of the first half of the year they did not even report commercial activity with Havana.
Although Cuba is forced by the embargo to acquire U.S. food products under unusual conditions for international trade – cash payment in advance – the country continues to be one of its main sources.
Last July, the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council reported that during the last month with available data, May, there was a 3.7% increase in food exports from the U.S. to Cuba, worth $26,476,991. Among the products sent to the Island were coffee, waffles, wafers, cookies, powdered milk, beer, toilet paper, pork, preserves and chicken.
By product, chicken was the largest expense in the Island’s imports from the U.S., with an abysmal difference compared to the rest of the purchases. Compared to the $32.8 million Cuba spent on poultry meat, the second item in order of importance was dairy products, which cost $1.3 million.
Behind these are pork, with 774,000 dollars; cereals and pasta, 526,000; non-alcoholic beverages, 294,000; beef 193,000; and flour, 153,000. At the end of the list are fruit juices and chocolate products, worth 97,000 and 78,000 dollars respectively, and the list closes with a product that in Cuba is considered a basic necessity and which it is increasingly forced to bring from outside: rice.
After a disastrous harvest in 2022, which stood at 120,000 tons – when national consumption demands at least 700,000 – the Island is still forced to import rice or to get donations, most frequently from Vietnam. In the month of June, according to the available data, Cuba spent $64,000 to bring rice from the United States.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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