Up to 500 pesos costs a kilogram of cheese in Cuba: 'They got quite out of hand'
"First the melted cheese was at 15 pesos per kilogram, then at 30, and one saw it a little expensive but it had better quality; then at 140 and currently at 300. It seems to me that they got quite out of hand and that it should be reviewed , because they say it goes up to and they go up to it; there is no middle ground," said Norma Fernández Alfonso about the high price of cheese in Bayamo, Cuba.
According to the official newspaper La Demajagua, last year a Mozarela cheese cost 168 pesos in the wholesale market and Commerce sold it for 210, but after the increase in the price of milk collection from 7.50 to 20 pesos, the industry raised its price at 399 pesos and Commerce at 500, and thus the different dairy items rose successively.
Fernandez said that "you don't have to be an analyst to know that they are exorbitant prices and that a worker who lives off his salary cannot afford to buy that product. If prices continue to rise, where are we going to stop? It's not just the cheese, it's everything, the clothes, the shoes."
For his part, Julio César Rodríguez Tamayo, a clerk at the ideal market La Granada, said that "at the previous price this cheese would no longer be here, it would have 'flown' in two hours. The delay was cutting and weighing, and that by rationing it to two kilograms per person. Today they buy half a pound, one; others a kilogram. It sells, but more slowly, that's why the product is permanent."
Vicente Díaz Sosa, second administrator of the Jesús Menéndez ideal market, said that despite the rise in price "the cheese is sold. This week I have searched for 300 kilograms and everything has come out. It takes about four days, but it comes out; what does exist the criterion among the population that the amount is high".
However, for retirees like Eva Hilda Rodríguez Palomino, cheese is a prohibited product. "With a pension of 1,528 pesos, I can't afford that luxury. The price is hot, not all of us can afford it. Between food and medicine, everything goes away for me."
Why did the price of cheese go up?
Yoandris Espinosa Infante, financial accounting director at the Granlac Dairy Products Company, in Granma, explained to La Demajagua that price formation is done taking into account the expenses incurred during the production process of the different lines and the costs of raw materials. The latter significantly increased their value on the international market (a ton of refined sugar rose from 7,817 dollars to 10,440) and, however, prices have not been in that same proportion.
"To produce a kilogram of cheese we use 10 to 13 liters of milk. You multiply that by 20 pesos and the least a kilogram should cost is 200 to 260 pesos," said Olga María Aguilera Aguilera, head of the planning group, Granlac price and statistics.
"Due to Finance and price regulations, we have established that we can only have up to an 8% profit margin of the total cost, we cannot afford to lower that regulation, because many of our products, even those that are directed to the basket basic, were centralized by the Ministry of Finance and Prices, and the price is much lower than the cost, which causes losses to the company that already drags 80 million pesos," said Aguilera.
Graciela María Carrazana Urquiza, economic director of the Commerce Business Group, said that retail prices are a continuation of wholesale prices. "Based on the sale price, I establish the retail price, applying 20% to that sale price, of which 10% goes to the state budget and the other ten is the profit margin to cover transportation costs, wages of workers, electricity".
"I have no way to modify prices. If the industry sells at a price, I have to comply with my commercial margin," she added.
Not only cheese has risen
"Everything that is happening is abusive and the government is slow to stop this situation. We retirees are paying the consequences and I think that something urgent must be done to avoid reaching a crisis. It is hard to see how many older people sell items from their homes to be able to buy food," Jesús commented in the official media Cubadebate, which reproduced the La Demajagua report in its entirety.
Maritza said that prices need to be revised in Granma because "not only cheese, in Bayamo everything has risen. A normal meal in a restaurant is more than 500 pesos; a hamburger without quality and cold is 55; a milkshake is 20 pesos. I earn 5,000 pesos and in electricity, telephone, water, medicine that you have to buy on the street because in the pharmacy there is none, my salary goes away. "
"The first problem, and one that embarrasses me as a Cuban, is that sugar is imported... a country whose economy has always depended on sugar exports now has to import it. The process must be optimized from the moment the raw material it reaches the industry until the product reaches the customer. Our technical universities train thousands of industrial engineers who even from their student stage work in this field, but is it used?" said Luis.
"What the State has to do is not pay more to the farmer for milk, but to lower the prices of inputs, that is what happens with the prices that it sells to the farmer, such as oil, fertilizers, boxes, etc. Please , let's just listen to other economists in this country, otherwise we will continue without getting ahead in the economy, and the order will continue to be a disaster," said Rafaela Castellanos.