Higher US Chicken Prices Force Cuba to Cutback Purchases

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14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 14 December 2022 — The price paid by Cuba in October for chicken imported from the US reached the historic high of 1.29 dollars per kilo, 48% more than at the beginning of this year, when it was at 0.87.

According to data from the US Department of Agriculture collected by Cuban economist Pedro Monreal, Havana reduced its purchases by a third compared to September.

After reaching, the previous month, one of the highest figures in chicken imports from the United States, the largest supplier of this product to the Island, in October the volume contracted 36% from 25,100 to 15,980 tons.

Cuba spent 20.54 million dollars in October for its chicken purchases in the United States, 33.9% below the amount paid in September, 31.08 million dollars. These figures are the lowest after the results of April 2022, when imports plummeted 30% against the peaks of February and closed that month with a little more than 21,000 tons, which cost about 23 million dollars. Only the month of May was worse, with the purchase of a little less than 15,000 tons.

The value of American chicken reached a new record in October, at $1.29 per kilo on average, five cents more expensive than the record recorded in September for $1.21. As a result, the economist said, the purchasing power of Cuban families is further reduced with respect to “a high-demand food with very low national production, without a productive solution in sight.”

In the group of meats, the price of chicken rose the most throughout the year, driven by the high costs of raw materials, mainly the concentrate and feed that are needed for poultry. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned in its latest report on the world price index, corresponding to November, that the value of this product will not relax its upward trend due to a drop in production in the large producing countries after outbreaks of avian influenza intensified.

For Monreal, who analyzes data from the U.S. Foreign Agriculture Service, the drop in poultry imports from the neighboring country was not compensated by the supply from Brazil, the second largest supplier of chicken to the Island. From the South American nation, 2,642 tons worth 2.84 million dollars were received, seven times below the volume brought in on American ships.

The economist Elias Amor also replied to Monreal’s publication: “There is no money left in the ATM,” he said, referring to the shortage of liquidity faced by the Cuban Government to fulfill its commitments.

Cuba has to bring in most of the food it consumes, and imported chicken meat has long been an essential on the tables of Cuban families due to the disappearance of other sources of protein — fish, eggs and beef — as well as the stratospheric rise in the price of pork.

While the Cuban regime continues to blame the US embargo for the lack of basic products on the Island, ships with frozen products from the United States continue to arrive at the port of Havana. The last to dock this December 11 was the Green Maveric ship from New Orleans.

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