The Fall in Cuba’s Purchases From the United States in March Anticipated the Removal of Chicken From the Ration Book

Line for chicken in Luyanó last March, when purchases were minimum despite the low price. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 5 May 2023 — The amount of chicken exported from the United States to Cuba fell in March for the second consecutive month, the lowest level since October 2022, despite the decrease in the cost. “The best prices could not be taken advantage of, probably due to the shortage of foreign exchange,” explains Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, who analyzes monthly, on his social networks, the imports of chicken to the Island.

In total, Cuba spent $17,830,000 on the 18,280.1 tons acquired, while in February it bought 23,014.7 tons for $23,500,000. “The value of monthly chicken exports from the United States to Cuba in March 2023 decreased by 24.2% compared to February, which was reflected in a monthly contraction of 20.6% in the tons exported,” says Monreal.

One kilogram (2.2 pounds) of U.S. chicken sold at $0.97 in the third month of the year, five cents less than in February, when it was $1.02, although not as cheap as in January ($0.93). Throughout the second half of 2022, chicken prices reached very high values, with the peak in October when it reached $1.29.

However, the price is much more attractive a priori than that of chicken from Brazil, another of the large suppliers of the product to Cuba. In this case, the product cost $1.27 in March, compared to $1.23 and $2.06 in February and January respectively. The calculations are made without counting freight and insurance, more expensive in the case of Brazil due to the distance, although another determining factor is that the embargo forces Havana to pay in cash and in advance for the food products of its northern neighbor.

Chicken imports from different countries starting in January 2022. (Pedro Monreal)

Despite this, Cuba didn’t buy more chicken from Brazil either. Exports from that country to the Island also fell visibly, remaining at just 1,137.7 tons, compared to 3,565.7 in February, which was a very high amount compared to the average, which during 2022 was at 2,769 tons, with highs of 5,959.8 in February of that year. Despite the fact that a scarce 975.5 tons of Brazilian chicken were bought in January 2023, Cubans perceive more presence of this product in stores lately.

The data published by Monreal also reveal that other traditional suppliers have practically disappeared from the map. Between January 2022 and March of this year, Spain has sent a few tons half of the months, a situation similar to that of Poland, although with higher quantities. The Netherlands, which in several periods sold quantities greater than 4,500 tons, has not sold anything in 2023, according to Trade Map figures.

Those same numbers show that chicken imports were not so low a year ago, in May 2022, when purchases were around 17,500 tons, even less than the 20,000 of this March. The difference was that in the previous months of last year a large volume had been amassed, while so far in 2023, purchases have only decreased.

The accounts correspond to the reality on the Island, where for this month it is not expected that there will be chicken in the ration book except for those who have a medical diet and those age 13 amnd under. The rest must be satisfied with picadillo and mortadella. The news was given in a note from the Ministry of Internal Trade that explained the recent difficulties for the supply of the basic family basket.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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