Cuban Rum Exports Fall Due to the Bad Sugar Harvest and the ‘Lack of Containers’ in Matanzas

“As in previous years, failure to comply with the sugar harvest put the province’s export route uphill,” said a Cuba Ron official. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 January 2023 — Companies in Matanzas, Cuba, fell far short of their export goals in 2022, some as much as 85% short of the plan. The directors of the province attributed the failure to productive stagnation, the lack of supplies and the absence of “strengths” in the industrial sector, as they explained this Friday to the official Girón newspaper.

In a desperate turn at the end of the year, 25 companies from Matanzas accelerated production in 130 items to achieve projected profits: 41 million dollars. Despite this “readjustment,” as the newspaper defines it, only 36 million in profits was achieved, of which “a good part” was due to “over-compliance” by some of the companies. The percentages “are far from efficient,” lamented the managers.

The delays have to do, mainly, with the lack of raw materials, the lack of technology, insufficient management of the markets and a “weak use of the strengths and opportunities of the companies,” according to Aliuska López Reyes, head of the Department of Foreign Trade, Foreign Investment and International Cooperation in Matanzas, and José Joaquín Pérez Ortiz, an expert in foreign trade.

The officials detailed the meager results of the companies. The most alarming figures correspond to two state companies: Pescamat, which met only 15% of the plan; and Fibras Naturales, with 29%. Cuba Rum, for its part, also failed –although the percentage was not revealed – due to the difficulties of the harvest and “the lack of packaging.” Pérez Ortiz commented, “As in previous years, a failure to meet the plan targets of the sugar harvest made the province’s export plan an uphill battle.”

The lack of raw materials affected the ability to export the clothing of Unymoda and Lamas, two companies of the Gardis retail products group. The group announced in February 2021 that Unymoda would start making disposable, hygienic and surgical masks with a plant located at the Camilo Cienfuegos campus of the University of Matanzas.

In October 2022 it was revealed that the first mask had not yet been marketed. For its part, Lamas deals with aluminum carpentry, with product lines for the international market.

Also behind was the Victoria de Girón company, founded in 1967 by Fidel Castro, focused on exports of citrus, concentrates and oils, as well as charcoal and products manufactured by other institutions. “They had a concentrated juice plan for 2022, which they were unable to complete due to difficulties with technology and not having the necessary production levels,” Pérez Ortiz explained.

The spokesperson assured that, according to internal analysis, the company has the possibility of obtaining raw material from independent producers, but the lack of machinery “represents a conflict.” At the moment, he affirmed, “their means do not allow the product to come out with the required quality standards.”

In its best years, Victoria de Girón was the province’s export leader in 20 productive sectors, but currently it only provides charcoal from the invasive marabou weed, along with citrus and chili peppers.

According to official data, charcoal was one of the main products in the island’s export basket in 2021, with sales that amounted to 6,000 tons that year and generated revenues of more than 2.07 million dollars. Today, the leading company in the export of this material is Agroindustrial Ceballos, in Ciego de Ávila. The Various Productions Company (Provari) is also dedicated to this business, for which it initially used inmates as free labor, as this newspaper documented.

For her part, the head of the Department of Foreign Trade considered that the production deficit is due to the fact that “enough is not demanded” in the payment chain, so businessmen “do not know the importance of these issues” and have no support through legal contracts.

“It has been proven that there is a market for everything that is produced, it is enough to explore the demands to understand that it is possible,” added the official, who also opined that many of the obstacles to exports fall on “subjective cases” because “we have examples that have managed to overcome these barriers and today exhibit good results.”

Among these success stories is the Jovellanos Beekeeping Company, with an “over-compliance” of up to 241% of its sales plan in products such as wax, pollen and royal jelly.


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