Shortages, Now it’s Ice Cream’s Turn

The shortage of Nestlé ice cream is a result of the irregular operation of the company’s factory, which is in the process of replacing its boilers. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 9 May 2017 — As in the old joke of socialist hell the products in Cuba disappear in turn. When there are potatoes, there is no oil to fry them in, when there is spaghetti, there’s no tomato sauce, and just when they release enough flour to make a cake, there are no eggs to beat into meringue. At the beginning of the year there were no national brands of beer in any market, and now it’s ice cream’s time to go silent, especially that distributed by the firm Nestle.

As the official media are very busy recounting the misfortunes of others, no one has explained the cause of the shortage. Some comment with extensive arguments that it could be caused by the drought, which has affected milk production, but the emblematic Coppelia ice cream continues to sell at least two or three flavors in their different establishments, with their traditional long lines.

After investigating among regular customers, café employees and the industry’s workers, the answer that clarifies the mystery is that “there are problems in the factory.”

At kilometer 23-and-a-half on Monumental Highway, on the outskirts of the Cotorro neighborhood, is the Havana Dairy Combine, opened on 13 August 1974. Right next to it, Nestle refurbished its facilities in 2002 as a joint venture called Coralac, S.A.

Although not considered a luxury product, Nestle ice cream is not a popularly consumed commodity, because of its price

All the steam that Nestlé consumes to scrub the equipment and make the mixtures for its products is taken from its neighbor the Dairy Combine, where, from the end of April, the old boilers began to be dismantled and replaced by two from Spain.

According to sources from the Ministry of Food Industry, the assembly of the new equipment will conclude between May 15 and 20, but it will be necessary to wait until the 25th when technicians of the supplier company will arrive in the country to approve the work. From that moment on, steam will begin to arrive at the Nestlé factory.

It’s been a long time since some of the specialties distributed by the Swiss firm have disappeared from the market, such as Mega ice cream bars, cones and platicas, many of which, despite their absence, remain on the advertising posters. Parents have to challenge their imagination to explain to the kids why they only sell the little 450-milliliter plastic pots at prices that vary between 1.35 and 1.75 CUC.

Although not considered a luxury product, Nestle ice cream is not a popularly consumed commodity, as the purchase of one pot a week would consume 40% of the average monthly salary of 350 Cuban pesos. If all goes as expected, the officials in charge of the new investments will return the flavors chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, the most coveted, to the shelves in June. The question is, what will there be a shortage of then.