Cuba hit by summer beer crisis
19th August, 2014 by Gabriel Stone
A lack of barley combined with one of the hottest summers on record has sparked a beer shortage in Cuba.
Apart from a few imported beers sold at high mark ups, most of the country’s beer is produced by the Bucanero brewery, a joint venture between the Communist government and Anheuser-Busch InBev. Alongside Bucanero, the brewery’s brands include Cristal, Cacique and Mayabe.
However, the brewery experienced a sharp dip in production at the start of 2014, which Cuban media attributed to delays in malted barley imports during the first four months of the year.
This shortfall has now filtered through the supply chain to affect thirsty consumers in search of refreshment as the island experiences a summer heatwave with temperatures averaging 28°C.
Local reports indicate that the situation is being exacerbated by individuals and the country’s newly permitted private restaurants, called paladares, hoarding beer stocks.
According to 2011 data provided by the Cuban government, the country’s per capita beer consumption is 21.1 litres in a population of 11.63 million.
Although the combination of its Communist set up and a longstanding US trade embargo means that the country is used to shortages, with items such as potatoes and even condoms reported to be scarce, this latest supply issue is provoking particular discontent.
“Cubans are beer people,” the manager of one Havana café told Reuters. “This beer drought is really hurting sales. People see there’s no cold beer and they just harrumph, then walk away in a bad mood.”