14ymedio, Havana, 8 July 2022 — The renewed scarcity of chicken in grocery stores and its high price — as much as 270 pesos a pound on the black market — coincides with a drop in exports from the United States, the main supplier to the Cuban market.
According to data released by Cuban economist Pedro Monreal on Thursday, the amount of chicken imported by Cuba from its neighboring country fell 54% since February, little more than three months ago. “This could indicate a period of import scarcity,” he says.
Monreal cites recent data released by the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service which indicates that chicken exports fell substantially in May — 28% in terms of tonnage — for the second consecutive month, a level not seen since November 2020.
In May 14,248 tons of chicken, valued at $14,308,000, was sold. The price per kilogram of U.S. chicken sold to Cuba rose one dollar, an increase of 9.9% compared to a 9.1% increase the previous month, when 19,740 pounds were sold.
Despite the decrease, Monreal notes, “These levels are still relatively high compared to historical data in terms of both price and weight.”
Cuba must import 80% of the food it consumes at an annual cost of two billion dollars. With other sources of protein such as fish, eggs and beef virtually unavailable and pork now at sky-high prices, imported chicken has become an essential item on Cuban dinner tables.
Buying in bulk during hot summer months like these runs the risk that the frozen chicken will spoil during long electrical power outages that are common throughout the island. Consumers have two choices: either buy a little at a time and have no chicken stashed away in the freezer or see your purchase go to waste during a prolonged blackout.
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