President Obama and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack led a large U.S. delegation to Cuba this week in an effort to further advance diplomatic relations and trade. USDA also issued a news release outlining research and promotion programs aimed at enhancing agricultural trade and collaboration between the two countries. This may include checkoff-funded research and educational activities not previously allowed in Cuba, but full details of these changes have not yet been announced.
The USDA release notes that while Cuba is open to agricultural commodities from the United States, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell below $150 million last year – the lowest total since 2002. Poultry is by far the largest imported meat product entering Cuba, with last year’s volume increasing 16 percent to 228,641 metric tons (mt). The U.S. remained Cuba’s leading supplier of poultry in 2015, although U.S. exports were down 26 percent to 106,033 mt while Brazil’s exports more than doubled (100,388 mt, +121 percent).
Pork entering Cuba increased 29 percent last year, but still totaled just 6,375 mt. Canada (3,478 mt, +125 percent) was the leading pork supplier, with most of the remainder coming from the European Union (2,842 mt, +12 percent). Much of the imported beef entering Cuba is canned product, mainly from the EU and Chile. Beef exports to Cuba in 2015 totaled 6,158 mt, up 12 percent year-over-year.