Cuba’s Milk Shortage: Exploring Purchases from the USA and Other Countries

Credits: France 24

It’s been two days since the Spanish agency EFE released news that Cuba had requested help from the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) due to a milk shortage, but the Cuban government has yet to make a public statement on the matter.

The Minister of the Food Industry, Alberto Lopez Diaz, recently held a press conference to address the situation, stating that children up to seven years old are guaranteed powdered milk in the coming days, though the details of the distribution were unclear.

The arrival of a Brazilian ship with 375 metric tons of powdered milk is said to “guarantee the distribution” for this age group for an unspecified number of days.

Cuba’s Milk (Credits: Havana Times)

The minister mentioned several contracts totaling 1,750 tons of powdered milk, which, according to him, will ensure stability in distribution for March and April.

Among these imports are 500 tons from the United States, purchased under certain exceptions established by the U.S. government to sell certain products to Cuba through immediate payment in cash.

Other contracts cited by the minister include 500 tons from Brazil, 245 tons from Canada, and 600 tons from other suppliers. The shortage of milk has become more pressing, especially since last year, when almost all provinces had to adjust their quotas or reduce the number of prioritized groups due to high inflation and other economic challenges.

Farmers complain about the lack of compensation or coverage for expenses, late payments, and poor payment practices by the State.

The population’s complaints about milk powder issues reached Cuban television in mid-February, prompting explanations from Minister of Internal Trade Betsy Diaz Velazquez about the challenges of acquiring the product from distant markets, leading to high prices and delayed deliveries.

The current distribution of milk powder to children up to seven years old comes from the country’s reserves, donations from the WFP, and loans from private companies.

It’s important to note that this is the first time Cuba has officially requested support from the WFP, which has historically provided assistance to poor countries with food needs.

The WFP received an official communication from the Cuban government requesting support to continue the monthly delivery of milk for children under seven years old, benefiting almost 48,000 children in Pinar del Río and Havana.