14ymedio, Havana, 11 February 2023 — The total value of chicken imported by Cuba from the United States in 2022 was $295 million, a level 5.6% higher than the previous year. The data, provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and analyzed by economist Pedro Monreal, contributes to dismantling the excuse of the embargo, the Cuban government’s favorite excuse to justify its inefficiency.
Cuba is ever more dependent on American chicken, on which the country spent $279.1 million in 2021. The numbers have doubled since 2020 (an increase of 105.9%), during the pandemic, when the regime spent $143.7 million for chicken imports.
Last December alone, a record $33 million was spent to import 26,460 tons of chicken. Monreal warned on his Twitter account that the amount paid in the last month of 2022 is half of what the Island budgeted for January 2019, but for the same amount imported, evidence of a greater hard currency outlays and an increase in the price of that food item.
Thus, the value of a kilogram of chicken imported was $1.26 at the end of December, the equivalent of an 44.8% annual increase compared with a price of $0.87 that same month in 2021. The price of white meat remained relatively high during the second half of 2022, when it reached more than a dollar per kilogram and reached its highest level in October — $1.29, on average.
“The inability to produce chicken is the elephant in the room of the national agricultural policy,” said the economist with regard to the low levels of avian production in Cuba, a food that in the last years has become an essential part of the Cuban family table due to the disappearance of other sources of protein from the market and the high price of pork.
Much different from the official discourse, which insists that Cuba does not depend on the United States, the data confirm a different reality. According to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, purchases of agricultural inputs and food products from the United States reached historic levels — $328.5 million at the end of 2022, which represents an increase of 7.7% from the $304.7 million reported in 2021.
Imports in December reached $39.3 million, 28.7% higher than the level reported that same month in 2021, by a little more than $28 million, or 178% more than the $14.1 million in December 2020.
Purchases in December included cigarettes, corn flour, caramel corn chips, peas, frozen chicken, as well as beef and pork. Furthermore, there were shipments of beans, coffee, beer, non-alcoholic beverages, and also soap, shampoo, detergent and beauty products.
The Council reported that the import of hygiene products alone totaled $9.22 million, the highest level since 2013, the first year data were recorded since sales to Cuba were authorized in 1992.
Humanitarian donations from the United States also reached record levels of $30.08 million at the end of last year, 171.7% greater than the $11.07 million received in 2021.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.