Cuba's Poultry Market
Cuba’s 11 million inhabitants have an estimated per capita income of $1,500. However, adjusted to account for purchasing power parity (PPP), Cuba’s per capita income rises to $3,500. This figure adjusts income for the relatively low cost of many items in Cuba, such as subsidized rent, health care, and basic foodstuffs purchased at Government stores. All major items in a typical market basket are much less expensive in Cuba than in developed countries. By some estimates, about 25 percent of the population earns substantially better wages than the PPP or nominal per capita income estimates and can afford higher quality foods, including imports.
For protein, most Cubans eat fish and beans, and, to a lesser extent, poultry, pork, and beef. Families on modest incomes are price-conscious, weighing protein needs against cost. Current per capita consumption of meats is less than comparable countries in the region and could rise with better access to competitively priced products from the United States.
Cuba’s hotel and restaurant sector provides a small, but growing, opportunity for meat items including poultry, due to increased tourism. In addition, a limited consumer market for imported meats also is growing.
Cuba’s Production and Imports
Poultry production in Cuba reached a peak of almost 100,000 tons in 1989, but has fallen off dramatically since then. Annual poultry production totals only 62,000- 64,000 tons, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This is equal to production in Guatemala, which has a much larger population. Cuba produces pork, beef, and chicken in roughly equal amounts (ranging from 64,000 to 73,000 tons). Cuba only imports poultry due to its relatively low cost.
Cuba has a history of poultry imports, going back at least to 1960. The peak import year was 1991, when Cuba imported 61,000 tons of poultry, valued at $78 million. During most of the 1990's, poultry imports were below the levels of the previous decade as Cuba struggled economically. In recent years, global poultry exports to Cuba have increased from about 21,000 tons in 1997 ($18 million) to over 45,000 tons in 1999 ($30 million). Canada was the most significant supplier in recent years; however, in 1999, the European Union (EU) took over the top spot. Brazilian shipments also have increased. The dramatic decline of world poultry prices in 1998 accounts for some part of the increase in shipments, but the total amount being spent by Cuba on poultry imports also has increased.
As more countries have begun to supply poultry to Cuba and competition has increased, average sales prices have dropped. In general, Cuba pays a premium for its poultry imports because sanctions have kept the United States–the world’s largest poultry supplier–out of the market. Poultry from the EU is now the most competitive, sold on average at 27 cents per pound in 1999. However, EU poultry sales to Haiti (where the United States is a major supplier) during that same time averaged only 19 cents per pound.
Exports and the U.S. Law
U.S. suppliers can export meat to Cuba through independent importers or to the national food distribution center, Cobalsi. The meat is then sold in Government meat shops, small supermarkets, or restaurants. Since the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act was signed into law in 2000, U.S. exporters have been allowed to sell agricultural commodities to Cuba. However, the changes in U.S. trade restrictions with Cuba were not comprehensive. Exporters should check with USDA, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control for the most up-to-date regulations and requirements for trade with Cuba.
For more information on trade with Cuba, see the Frequently Asked Questions: Trade With Cuba at http://www.fas.usda.gov/itp/cuba/cuba.html on the FAS website.
For information regarding this fact sheet, please contact Alessandra McCormack at (202) 720-7066; firstname.lastname@example.org