The Drastic Reduction in US Chicken Imports Aggravates the Food Crisis in Cuba

In just two months, chicken imports have fallen 76%. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 8 December 2023 — A kilo of American chicken reached its highest price in the last five years in October, with a value of $1.30. The high price may be the cause of a new collapse in imports of the poultry meat that Cuba buys from the neighboring country, which fell to figures never seen since June 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.

Havana bought 8,126.5 tons of chicken meat, 32% less than the previous month , when imports had already fallen enormously. In September, 11,954 tons were acquired, which represented 66% less than in August, with 35,117 tons. That is, in just two months, the purchase of chicken from the United States has fallen by 76.8%.

The decrease in the volume of imports is also reflected in the amount, although the sharp rise in price attenuates the difference. Cuba spent 26.5% less compared to the month of September, a total of 10.63 million dollars compared to 14.4 million dollars the previous month. That month, the price of a kilo of chicken had already increased considerably, going from $1.05 in August to $1.21.

“The food security crisis worsens due to ineffective economic policies,” says Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, who analyzes these data monthly. “With chicken being the main meat source of protein in Cuba, the recent problems are worse than those that the official story seems to recognize,” he added on his social networks.

Evolution of chicken meat imports from the US to Cuba. (Pedro Monreal)

Trade between Cuba and the United States is weakening as the year progresses and it is not just about chicken. The data from the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council (CubaTrade) for the month of September – the latest report available, published in November – shows a drop of 47% compared to the previous year.

In September 2023, exports of food and agricultural products amounted to 20,317,573 dollars, compared to 38,167,679 in the same month of 2022. However, in the annual accumulated, the total value was 252,804,856 dollars, more than in the first nine months of 2022, when it stood at $235,204,923. According to the calculations of this organization, total US exports to Cuba of these products are valued at more than 7,156,531,222 dollars since exceptions were opened in 2001 for this type of sales, previously prohibited by the embargo.

By products, this September the majority of chicken parts once again topped the list, as well as the whole bird. Below this on the list are different types of pork and then decaffeinated roasted coffee. Apart from food products, there are others such as lactation nipples, umbrellas, freezers, chainsaws, grass and weed mowers, forklifts, electric mixers and various types of vehicles and their parts.

In 2023, the United States has granted licenses to several private companies to export vehicles that can be sold by MSMEs on the Island. One of them is Apacargo Express, based in Miami, authorized since April, and another Katapulk, owned by the well-known Cuban-American businessman Hugo Cancio, through whose website cars from brands such as Ford, BMW, Mercedes and even Tesla are available.

The latest data on vehicle sales from the US are from September ($593,526) and do not yet reflect a trend that has been noticeable for a couple of months on the streets of Havana.


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