Cubans Will Be Without Hot Dogs until August

Maintenance work at the Sancti Spíritus factory forced the production of sausages to stop. (Escambray)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 15 July 2023 — Hot dogs, the great lifeline of the Cuban family table, will decrease in stores in the coming weeks after the temporary closing at the Sancti Spíritus sausage factory, the only one of its kind in Cuba. The industry stopped the engines in order to carry out “extensive” maintenance, which will last until the beginning of August, the director of the Business Unit, Luis Ignacio Sariol Maceda, told the Escambray provincial newspaper this Friday.

The official explained that since the inauguration of the plant, in 2019, machinery imported from Italy had not received maintenance and the deterioration was already reflected in production volumes. Initially, the technology had a capacity to produce eight tons, a figure that had been reduced to just two due to “technical problems”.

This problem had already been exposed in September 2022, when the plant managers indicated that they barely worked part-time due to the lack of spare parts for the machinery. The official press then assured that the necessary parts to restore capacity to factory levels had already been imported and that the only thing left to do was “resolve” the supply of meat in the face of the livestock debacle.

Nine months later, Sariol Maceda has indicated that they already have the “advice of Italian specialists” to review the production line of one of the foods most in demand by Cubans. The official explained that they have allocated 500,000 euros to obtain most of the pieces, “many of which are already in the UEB Perros Calientes de Sancti Spíritus itself and the rest are in the process of arrival”. The importing of the cooling shower and the purchase of special bearings for the vacuum pump are still pending.

Although national production depends on a single factory, American brands and, to a lesser extent, Brazilian brands, enter the market

The shutdown of this plant represents a hard blow to Cubans’ diet, who largely depend on this sausage, which can be obtained at relatively affordable prices. Nor does it require special conditions for its conservation, apart from refrigeration, and it can be prepared using several recipes.

Although national production depends on a single factory, American and Brazilian brands enter the markets, the latter ones to a lesser extent. The latest presentations shipped from the US are more similar to sausages, in larger packages of up to three kilograms. However, they are only available in networks of freely convertible currency (MLC) stores, or online sales sites designed for Cubans residing abroad to buy food for their relatives on the Island.

We are hoping that no setbacks occur, added the director, so that the repair schedule is not interrupted and the plant is reactivated at the end of July or the first days of August. To date, the work on the refrigeration system has been completed and the materials have been changed to meet the temperature requirements in the sausage manufacturing process.

At the moment, the factory is dedicated to the preparation of other foods, including salami and 60 tons of ground beef per month destined for medical and children’s diets and for the rationed ‘family baskets’.

The plant is the great meat consumer in Sancti Spíritus, leaving popular markets and even informal commerce without supply. However, due to the fall in the sector, they have sought raw materials to manufacture sausages, previously made with pork, minced chicken or beef. Last September, they detailed that the formula for this sausage includes 50% of these types of meat, plus 50% starch and water.

Translated by Norma Whiting

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