Packaging Shortage Leaves Havana Children without Soy Yogurt

The authorities expect to distribute 12 bags per month as soon as plastic is available for packaging. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 7, 2021 — Thousands of children in Havana are once again going without rationed soy yogurt, this time because of a shortage of plastic packaging.

On Monday the news came in the form of two and a half lines in a notice posted on website of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, which attributes the absence of this product — the only option available to low-income families who cannot afford the high prices charged for dairy products at foreign currency stores and on the black market — to a “delay in the expected delivery of polyethylene used to manufacture the packaging.” It suggests consumers use half a kilogram of “smoothie mix,” diluted with water, as a substitute.

“This is an insult. I’ve been coming here all week and nothing. There has to be some other solution,” a mother complained this week at the counter of a local store in the Plaza neighborhood.

The ingredients in these powdered mixes, whose labels indicate they are made in Cuba, are sugar, whole milk, cocoa and salt. A neighborhood store in Nuevo Vedado was selling the product in bulk due to the unavailability of packaging.

In April, four bags of soy yogurt will be substituted with a ten-day supply of a chocolate product to be distributed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday according the Tribuna de Havana.

A neighborhood store in Nuevo Vedado was selling soy yogurt in bulk due to the unavailability of packaging.

“However, buyers can expect to receive twelve bags of soy yogurt (a one-month supply) as soon as the polyethylene packaging becomes available,” official sources said.

This is not the first time soy yogurt has been in short supply on the island. A shortage in 2015 was attributed to obsolete technology and deteriorating refrigeration facilities. Consumers have complained of its poor quality since it was first introduced in 2003 and its producers have never reached their annual production target of 250,000 tons.

After currency unification at the beginning of this year, its price was set at 1.05 pesos a package.

The smoothie mix is a substitute for the substitute of the original product: milk, which must be purchased with a ration book and is limited to children under seven years of age, people with “medical dietary restrictions,” and patients with illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, HIV and high cholesterol, who can only acquire it through hospitals and designated healthcare centers.


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