Cuba is short of baby formula and coffee

Cuba is running out of milk powder as it has difficulties importing milk. The population also struggles to find coffee.

Baby drinking milk
Cuba runs out of powder milk at it has difficulties importing milk. | © Kelly Sikkema

Cuba informed on January 23 the country is facing difficulties to provide powdered milk for children under 7 years old, the age group with the highest priority to receive it.

The distribution in some territories has been fragmented” during January, the Ministry of Internal Trade reports.

Because of the shortage, “it was necessary to include milk from non-traditional markets”. However, authorities don’t specify whether they introduced soymilk as an alternative or referred to humanitarian aid.

The shortage of powdered milk has been going on in Cuba for several months including in cities like Havana or Santiago de Cuba.

Last summer, protesters went down on the streets because of the economic crisis resulting in food and medicine shortages.

Cuban officially acknowledged a shortage of milk in September. In December the minister of Internal Trade Betsy Díaz Velásquez explained difficulties to import milk were due to the global delays resulting from jammed maritime traffic. And a lack of financial resources.

8 tonnes of milk powder sent from the United States

Powdered milk for people with medical conditions is not supplied because of a lack of funds according to January’s note.

Cuba is unable to produce enough cow milk for its population and has been more and more relying on imports. The government justified that in 2020 it cost less to import milk than to produce it. But it makes Cuba vulnerable to global market conditions.

Nicaragua sent 50 containers of rice and beans to Cuba in December.

Three U.S. charities, Puentes de Amor, the People’s Forum and CodePink, sent 15,000 pounds (8.5 tonnes) of baby formula by plane on January 14 from Miami to Cuba to be distributed in pediatric hospitals.

Although WHO recommends breastfeeding, powdered milk can be stored longer than fresh milk and is often considered a humanitarian aid as it can be a life-saver for children in poor countries.

In the meantime, Cuba recently reported its highest infant mortality rate in 20 years.

The supply of coffee for domestic consumption has also been disrupted at least since December. The standard family baskets, rationed portions of essential food and fuel that the population can buy at an affordable price, don’t have coffee in January. Cubans can’t find coffee to buy.

The country also needs to import coffee beans to satisfy its domestic consumption. Authorities emphasized again the consequence of shipping delays but coffee has reached sky-high prices on the global market recently.

Read more about Cuba

Informan sobre inestabilidad de la leche en polvo para niños y la distribución del café, Ministry of Internal Trade, January 2022, Free access

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