14ymedio, Mercedes García, Havana, 23 September 2022 — “Everything coming out of the slaughterhouse is being swallowed up by the sausage factory,” says a resident of Kilo 12, a Sancti Spiritus neighborhood named for the province’s meat producer. He reports that, for several days, meat has been increasingly hard to find. Not even the black market, where it is worth its weight in gold, has been spared the debacle.
“They used to set aside the pork loins and the cuts of beef, and you could buy those. But that was then. It seems sausages are more profitable than raw meat,” he says. The state-owned company’s sausages are produced with a particular customer base in mind, one that pays better: tourist hotels and the network of hard currency stores.
The man claims that a plant employee he knows, who works in quality control, told him a large container of imported pork entered the country two weeks ago. Half the shipment was sent to the plant, which has since greatly increased production.
Opened in 2019 after a six-million-dollar investment, the Sancti Spíritus sausage factory is the only one of its kind in Cuba. The company’s directors boasted of these figures on the local television station, Centrovision. During Wednesday’s broadcast, however, workers admitted that all production is focused on meeting the demands of the tourism industry and filling the shelves of hard-currency stores.
What Cubans get, if anything, comes from the company’s “parallel production line,” which supplies its mass market “product leader.” It also produces ground meat, hamburgers and chorizo. According to the employee, anything that is left over is made available to retail and dining establishments.
The factory has the capacity to produce six tons of cured meats but is currently operating on a half-day schedule due to a shortage of spare parts. One official, whose name Centrovision did not reveal, stated that the parts needed to return the plant to full capacity are available on the island and that the “only” issue to be resolved is the meat supply.
Another unnamed official stated that they had been making sausages with pork but, due to shortages, have had to use alternatives. “They’ve been made with ground chicken and beef. The formula is 50% these kind of meats, 50% water and starchy fillers” she says.
“I’ve bought them. They’re not bad. They’re better than they were six months ago when they were making them with horse meat,” added the Kilo 12 resident. “It’s too bad they’re so expensive. They’re meatier.”
In 2021 Cuban pork production fell 53.5%, to 132.90 tons, compared to the previous year. It was part of a trend that also saw beef fall 13.5%. Similarly, lamb fell 32.5% and poultry 20.8% according to the National Office of Statistics and Information.
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