Yogurt, Scarce and Bad

Yogur de soya. (YouTube)
Consumers report the loss of product quality with soy yogurt due to failures in refrigeration and sanitary control. (Youtube)

The shortage of soy yogurt in the regulated market has worsened in recent weeks, and this product intended for children between 7 and 13* years of age is also characterized by its low quality.

The shortage of  soy yogurt has worsened in recent weeks in the regulated market where the product intended for children aged seven to thirteen years it is also characterized by its low quality.

Designated mostly for the “basic family food ration” and school meals, soy yogurt began to appear on the island in 2003, but manufacturers have never been able to fulfill their commitments for 275,500 tons annually.

In the last session of the National Assembly in July, industry officials blamed the instability of Party managers, technological obsolescence and the deterioration of refrigeration systems for the distribution problems.

On that occasion, the Minister of the Food Industry, Maria del Carmen Concepcion, reaffirmed the importance of soy yogurt and agreed on the urgent need to “find immediate solutions.” However, over the months the problem has worsened rather than improved.

The points of sale, distributed in each municipality, should be supplied three times a week, so that each child receives twelve bags in a month. Consumers complain that the quota is never met, but it is possible to find the same yogurt in the unregulated markets*.

“It shows up once or occasionally twice a week, but it is not safe,” an employee of a dairy in Central Havana explained this Tuesday, while a mother complained that “sometimes it doesn’t arrive for a whole week.”

Consumers also reported a loss of product quality due to failures in refrigeration and sanitary control.

In some areas the product has been replaced by a powdered mixture to prepare it, but with little acceptance among customers. “People do not want it because you need milk to mix it with. Made with just water the children don’t like it,” says an employee of a market in Havana’s Vibora neighborhood.

Modesto Perez, director of the dairy complex in the capital, explained the technical problems facing the industry on national television this week. “Maintaining stability and three operating boilers is complex. Whenever there is a situation with a boiler, production stops because steam is essential to the production.”

In the middle of this year the official press announced that nine million convertible pesos (CUC) would be earmarked to “gradually resolve the issue of technological obsolescence in the production and distribution of soy yogurt.” The results are not yet visible to the consumer.

Across the country the situation is repeated; the 15 companies that produce this food are all affected by breakdowns that prevent or hinder production. The most affected regions, including the capital, are Bayamo, Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba.

*Translator’s note: Children under 7 receive a cow’s milk ration in Cuba; older children do not. See also Children without milk , and  Soy yogurt meant for children ends up feeding pigs.

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