In the peaceful outskirts of Havana, a small family business is creating waves in the Cuban food sector. Bacoretto, a company founded by 38-year-old designer, farmer, and entrepreneur Gabriel Pérez, is producing gluten-free flour made from locally sourced ingredients—banana, coconut, and cassava. It's an innovative approach that is providing a lifeline in the face of the island's escalating food crisis.
Locally Sourced Innovation Amidst Crisis
Cuba, a country heavily reliant on imported food, is grappling with a significant economic downturn. The COVID-19 pandemic's aftermath, coupled with U.S. sanctions and a sharp decline in tourism—a once vital economic pillar—have pushed the island nation into a state of crisis. Pérez, however, has chosen to see this adversity as an opportunity for innovation. He sold his small restaurant and house to start Bacoretto, focusing on drying and grinding these local products into organic flour. The flour caters specifically to those with gluten intolerance, a group until recently overlooked in Cuba's food market.
Bacoretto: Small Scale, High Impact
Bacoretto may be a small and specialized project, but its impact is significant. The business markets its products primarily in Havana, with a team of eight producing 6 to 8 kilograms of flour per week in small batches. Additionally, they utilize by-products to create coconut oil, ropes from coconut fibers, and fermented sweet products. Despite its size, the company highlights the potential for local resources to play a significant role in addressing Cuba's food crisis.
Embracing the Shift in Cuba's Economic Landscape
The Cuban state's recent allowance for private enterprise, a marked shift from the post-1959 revolution era, has opened up new possibilities for businesses like Bacoretto. Pérez acknowledges the challenges, including the need for better technology and machinery to increase profitability and production. However, this hasn't dampened his spirit or determination. His eyes are set on the future, as he works to provide a sustainable, innovative solution to Cuba's food challenges.