The ‘House of Preserves’ Falls a Few Days After Opening

A before and after in the presentation and quality of the products in the store located in the municipality of Cerro. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 28 September 2021 — Almost three weeks after the inauguration of La Case de las Conservas (The House of Preserves), the products that the store sells today are far from the presentation and quality of those initially praised by authorities and the official press at the opening of the establishment.

This Tuesday one could find the Rial brand mayonnaise from that initial batch, which “is not of very good quality, but since it is the only one you can find, you have to buy it,” according to the shopper Alberto, a private sector worker in Havana speaking to 14ymedio. Apart from this sauce, one could also buy cumin, which had run out a few days after the market’s opening and that is once again for sale today, explains the customer.

Located in the Ayestarán neighborhood, between May 19th and Néstor Sardiñas streets, in the Cerro municipality, in Havana, the store specializes in “all kinds of preserves,” according to an article in the Havana Tribune. The official newspaper reported on September 12 that “there will be a permanence of products” that “will be controlled and regulated.”

As of days ago, at La Casa de las Conservas products such as jams and vinegar are now supplied by mini-industries and not by state-owned factories which have higher production and quality. They arrive without labels, they only have a small paper tag attached with the description of the content and come in very rustic packaging, some buyers complain, although others, like Tania, don’t notice.

“We no longer look for attractiveness in shopping, what one tries to do is sort things out and that is why the huge line and killer conditions to continue to buy here,” the woman said with resignation. “But yes, there’s no longer ketchup or mustard or Taoro jam or VitaNova, which was the star product of this place,” she says.

The reluctance of customers also comes because food made in mini-industries is often far from the details printed on the labels. Tomato sauces mixed with beets to increase volume, tasteless pickles and sweets made with poor quality fruits are some of the most frequent criticisms of the production of these factories.

Customers also complain about long lines and say that every time merchandise arrives, no matter how little, they stop selling and until everything is downloaded and accounted for, marketing is not restarted. In addition, on several occasions they have demanded that the store workers place the notice board with the products that are dispensed in the window.

Since its inauguration, only one item from of each line can be purchased at La Casa de las Conservas and they scan the customer’s identity card “so that the same person does not buy again for a month,” a buyer complained on September 13.

According to various testimonies collected by 14ymedio, some people have arrived at the time when the 400 turns in line are distributed, at 5 am, and have not been able to enter until a day later. “The worst thing is that you cannot line up to buy a particular product, because it usually happens like in any other store, that things run out before your turn is due. That is why, after waiting so long, you have to buy whatever they have,” laments Alberto.

“Add to that that since your identity card has already been registered, if you don’t want to buy because the product you wanted ran out, you have to wait a month to buy again in the store.”


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