14ymedio, Havana, 10 May 2021 — In the midst of a profound crisis, the Cuban authorities have announced one more piece of terrible news: the bread sold outside the rationed market “will be reduced by approximately 30%” as of Monday due to “the effects on the availability of wheat flour,” as reported this Monday by the Government of Havana.
The note of the announcement also specifies that “the delivery of this product to the food network and state agencies will be reduced by 50%,” but the sale of rationed bread and that destined to prioritized sectors such as Healthcare and Education will be fully guaranteed.”
Julio Martínez Roque, coordinator of Goals and Programs for the Government of Havana, explained that “due to the difficult economic scenario” the country is experiencing “the daily quota of wheat flour assigned to the capital has been limited” and for that reason the production of sweet cookies and salty crackers will also be affected.
According to Roque’s forecast, the lack of flour will “probably” last until July.
For her part, Yoanka Gámez Poronda, head of the Technical-Productive Department of the Cuban Bread Chain, said that as a result of these limitations, 20% of the wheat flour with which the breads are made will be replaced by corn flour. She promised that this “will affect the texture of the crusts” of the product, but not its flavor or quality.
During the last year , but especially since January, buying bread in the unrationed market is only possible in the capital after standing in long lines — lasting two, three and even four hours — and from private businesses where bread that previously cost 25 pesos now sells for 50. In the same way, the prices of sweets, pizzas and all products made with flour has doubled.
The crisis since the beginning of the year includes not only the shortage of bread at the bakery counters, but also in many of the municipalities of Havana where state points of sale for unrationed bread closed for several days due to the lack of bread.
The news this Monday is another bucket of cold water for many families that basically support themselves eating “bread with ‘something’,” a substitute for other recipes that are in retreat in Cuban homes due to the worst economic crisis that the country has experienced since the beginning of this century.
According to the official press, Cuba expects to purchase 770,000 tons of wheat in the international market of this year, at a cost of 240 million dollars.
Bread with oil, bread with mayonnaise or bread with sugar are some of the most popular preparations to substitute for the lack of other foods. Private businesses that still continue to deliver takeout food, amid the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, base their menus basically on sandwiches, snacks, pizzas and other recipes made with flour.
In 2018, the country went through a similar crisis with the supply of this product and in the face of consumer complaints, the Minister of the Food Industry, Iris Quiñones Rojas, explained that the lack of flour was due to the poor condition of the mills that process wheat on the island.
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