Beer shortage and heatwave spells misery for Cubans
Havana (AFP) – Cuba has been hit by a severe beer shortage during one of
its hottest summers on record, sparking hoarding and driving thirsty
drinkers to pay greatly inflated prices.
A sharp fall in production at the island’s main brewery, Bucanero, at
the beginning of the year has trickled its way down the supply chain at
the worst possible time: the third-hottest summer since 1951.
That has caused many consumers and the communist country’s newly
legalized private restaurants, or “paladares,” to stock all they can.
Bucanero makes four brands of beer: Bucanero, Cristal, Cacique and
Mayabe. The company has a virtual monopoly in Cuba, though some imported
beers are also available, albeit at a large mark-up.
“It was an odyssey to find beers for a going-away party Tuesday,” one
Chilean expatriate told AFP.
“I covered half of Havana going to supermarkets, gas stations and liquor
stores before I finally had to buy them at a restaurant” — where he had
to pay 15 percent higher prices, he said.
Cuban media said the problem was caused by delayed imports of malted
barley in the first four months of the year.
That hit production at Bucanero, a joint venture between the Cuban state
and brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, and reached consumers just as
summer set in.
“Now in the summer more than ever, you go to look for a cold beer at
this moment when you needed it the most, and you can’t find any,” said
an agonizing islander interviewed on local TV.
Cuba has registered average temperatures of 28 degrees Celsius (82
Fahrenheit) this summer, according to the national meteorological institute.
Media reports said the beer problem had been exacerbated by hoarding by
consumers and the “paladares” that have flourished since the
introduction of economic reforms by President Raul Castro, who took over
from his 88-year-old brother Fidel, the father of the Cuban Revolution,
eight years ago.
Source: Beer shortage and heatwave spells misery for Cubans – Yahoo News