It's a hard-knock life for the bread industry in Sancti Spíritus, Cuba. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused the cost of wheat to escalate, leading to a drastic reduction in bread production. The standard 'bolita' bread, once known for its 100 grams of hearty goodness, is now only 60 grams. Despite the reduction in size, the price of the bread has been lowered by 25 cents, according to Víctor Díaz Acosta, director of the Food Industry in the province.
War and Wheat
The war between Russia and Ukraine plays a significant role in the current bread crisis. The cost of each wheat shipment has tripled to 13 million pesos due to the conflict, adding to the previous price hikes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A staple in every Cuban household, the production of standard bread is subsidized by almost 50%, leading to monthly losses of three to four million pesos for the industry.
The Food Industry of Sancti Spíritus, however, is not reporting losses, thanks to its collaboration with the private sector. This alliance, producing other bread products, has saved the country 39 million pesos, even amidst U.S. sanctions and various shortages. However, the quality of bread is affected by obsolete equipment, the technical condition of bakery facilities, and the quality of raw materials. The situation is further exacerbated by frequent power outages, disrupting the baking process.
Addressing Wheat Scarcity
To combat the wheat scarcity, bakeries had previously been allowed to use up to 20% rice husk residues for bread-making. While private bakeries continue to sell bread at high prices, the state production struggles with quality and supply issues. These concerns raise the alarming possibility of bread becoming a luxury item for many Cubans. The official press acknowledges the dire state of bread production but has yet to find a satisfactory solution to the ongoing crisis, leaving bread's future hanging in the balance.