Cuba's Pork 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 pork, due to increased tourism. In addition, a limited consumer market for imported meats also is growing. Because of its proximity, the United States is in position to capture a large share of the pork import market.
Cuba's Production and Imports
The United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated Cuba's 1999 hog stocks at 2.4 million head, down 0.1 million from 1990. According to FAO, pork production in Cuba peaked in the early 1990's and has stagnated at around 73,000 tons annually since 1995. The slowdown of hog/pork production, a smaller cattle herd, increasing tourist trade, and a consumer preference for pork over beef has led to an increase in pork imports since 1997.
Cuba's pork imports totaled about 6,000 tons for 1998, and increased slightly in 1999, according to UN trade data and Statistics Canada. Cuba imported pork from at least 16 countries over the past 10 years. The European Union and Mexico were Cuba's main suppliers, but Canada has steadily gained market share and now accounts for about 80 percent of Cuba's pork imports. Canada's fresh and frozen pork sales to Cuba rose from $3.0 million in1997 to $5.9 million in1999.
Ham cuts account for nearly 60 percent of Canada's pork shipments to Cuba and this trade has increased steadily. Loin cuts also jumped and are expected to hold at the higher level.
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 information regarding this fact sheet, please contact Tim Rocke at (202) 720-7715; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.