This week the Obama Administration announced that it is reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and taking steps to ease trade and travel restrictions. More details are available from this White House fact sheet.
While restrictions on financial transactions and other constraints have made Cuba difficult to serve, the market is open to U.S. meat exports. U.S. exports of pork/pork variety meat have been as high as $15.3 million in 2010, while the peak value for beef/beef variety meat was just under $1 million in 2011.
Lack of private sector purchasing power is the main obstacle that must be overcome in order for Cuba to develop into a reliable market for U.S. red meat, but the changes announced this week could represent a step in that direction. Market Access Program (MAP) funding, Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding and checkoff funding cannot currently be utilized in Cuba, but these policies may be reviewed once diplomatic relations are reestablished. USMEF will provide updates as more information becomes available.