The First Shipment of Wheat Since July Arrives in Cuba

Wheat flour at the José Antonio Echeverría mill. (Cuban Molinería Company)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 17 October 2023 — The Island’s mills have stopped since the last shipment of wheat arrived in July, according to the authorities, who are now celebrating the arrival of 23,500 tons “from Europe,” with which 16,000 tons of flour can be produced. The first deputy minister of the Food Industry, Mercedes López Acea, disseminated through her X account (formerly Twitter) the arrival of the product, although she did not reveal its origin or whether it is a purchase or donation. With the amount received, the production of bread for the basic family basket will be “stabilized” for just 20 days.

In December 2022, the port of Havana received a slightly higher amount of wheat (25,000 tons), donated by Russia and which, according to estimates made by 14ymedio, barely yielded 41 million pounds of bread, less than 4.4 pounds per Cuban.

The calculation was made taking into account the recipe recommended by the Agricultural Foundation for the Development of Argentina (FADA), which puts at 3.09 pounds the amount of wheat needed to make one pound of flour, and 2.12 pounds of flour needed to make one pound of bread. That is, 3 pounds of wheat for one pound of bread.

The lack of wheat “has led to looking for alternatives and buying imported flour to secure the bread of the basic family basket”

In any case, the shipment will be a little relief in the current situation. The president of the Business Group of the Food Industry, Emerio González Lorenzo, told Canal Caribe that the lack of wheat “has led to looking for alternatives and buying imported flour to ensure the bread of the basic basket and some very limited social consumption that is prioritized.”

The mills of Havana and Cienfuegos are already working to solve one more moment of bread shortage, which is joined by the lack of fuel, making it difficult, they said, to deliver food, especially in the eastern provinces.

In recent weeks, the official press has once again left room for complaints about the quality and quantity of the bread in the basket. In Sancti Spíritus and Ciego de Ávila, the authorities warned of a reduction in the weight of the bread, which went from the usual 2.3 ounces to 2.1, in the case of the first, and only 1.8 in the second, although the price was also reduced.

In addition, the taste and texture do not satisfy the population either, and Cubans often complain about the product that they have recently received in their rations. “It’s good that the bakery at least sells bath sponges. You are right to feel very happy. Now you can have a good scrubbing in the bath,” reported independent journalist Alberto Arego this Monday, echoing the words of several residents of El Vedado.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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