While Cuba has in recent years been one of the largest destination for U.S. poultry exports, the country’s demand for such products has seen a huge uptick since late 2020.
In December 2020, the United States shipped 179.1% more poultry to Cuba than it did in the same month of 2019, said Matthew Busardo, poultry market reporter, Urner Barry, during the Urner Barry Poultry Industry Insights Webinar on February 25.
Aside from China, which had banned U.S. poultry products from 2015 until late 2019 because of concerns over the possible spread of avian influenza, none of the U.S. other top importers have seen such a surge.
Mexico has increased its imports of U.S. poultry by 10.4%, while Angola has increased imports by 38%. Taiwan actually decreased its imports in December 2020 on a year-over-year basis by 22.1%.
Busardo says he believes Cuba’s huge increase in demand for U.S. poultry products – particularly leg quarters -- is due to increased wealth in the country.
“Cuba is an interesting case where they’re pulling on our leg quarters. They love our leg quarters. They’re going to continue to pull on them,” said Busardo. When they have money, they are not afraid to spend. And that’s what’s happening. That’s what was happening in December, and looked to be the same in January.”
Speaking on the same day at a different event, Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, made a similar observation.
“Cuba has gotten back in the market in a big way. Someway, I don't know how, they've got plenty of cash and they're in the market in a big way,” Butts said during the company’s quarterly earnings call on February 25.
Butts also noted the increase in shipments to Angola, saying he believes that trend is tied to the price of oil.