The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has undertaken a fact-finding mission to Cuba to look at new export opportunities for UK wheat.
AHDB’s export team met with Alimport, the government body responsible for all of Cuba’s cereal imports, to gain a greater understanding of the country’s requirements and the process to gain access to this new market.
AHDB Export Marketing Executive Dorit Cohen said the visit proved very useful and it revealed many opportunities for trade between the UK and Cuba.
She added: “This fact-finding mission was incredibly important as in order to begin exporting UK wheat to Cuba, we first need to understand the needs of the marketplace. It was very interesting to discover what opportunities exist for our wheat exporters.
“As Cuba does not have suitable climatic conditions to grow wheat, there is no domestic production and the country is the largest importer of wheat in the Caribbean, with annual imports totalling 0.8Mt.
“During the visit, we discovered that the export opportunities are strongest for malting barley and hops, as well as biscuit-grade wheat.”
The vast majority of Cuba’s wheat imports are for bread production and with the country’s booming tourist industry – reaching its peak at 4.7 million tourists in 2017 – bread consumption is expected to rise further.
Beer production is also increasing as a result of the rise in tourism and small quantities of malting barley are being imported for its production.
Dorit said: “Now that we have researched the needs of the Cuban market, we can explore mutual interest between UK suppliers and Alimport and begin the process to gain phyto-sanitary clearance, which is key for the commencement of trade.
“In a post-Brexit environment, we need to be aware of any potential trade opportunities that exist with non-EU countries, which is why these fact-finding missions are so important for the industry.”