The elders of the house usually affirm that in Cuba coffee, rum and cigarettes cannot be lacking, products that, even with criteria for and against, are part of the national consumption tradition and that, however, have seen diminished its presence in the commercial network.
In the case of cigarettes, during 2021 the instability in its distribution in the retail sales network was mainly due to the deficit of the producing factories due to unforeseen breakages, logistical and transportation problems, lack of materials, and the paralysis of some lines. or delays in deliveries due to the pandemic.
The Tabacuba Business Group, supplier of the product, then pointed out that, since the end of 2020, the lack of financing had an impact on the purchase of wrapping paper, labels and parts for the factories of that economic line.
The situation reached such a point that, in June of last year, to avoid hoarding and resale, the territorial governments decided to distribute national cigarettes in a controlled manner through the supply book, to people over 18 years of age and depending on existing availability.
It was expected that by the first quarter of 2022 the scenario could change. But we are in August and the situation is still complex.
“I BUY CIGARS!”
A middle-aged man, sitting in the outdoor area of the El Crisol winery, from time to time makes known the purpose of his stay there. “I buy cigarettes!” he says loudly to those who enter and leave the premises.
No one would believe that this is happening in Holguín, where the Lázaro Peña industrial center concentrates 60% of the national cigar plan.
“Generally, two or three people sit there and buy a pack at 120 pesos. It is easy for customers to buy at ten pesos and sell, sometimes quickly, at 130 or 140”, says Omar Rodríguez Cruz, assistant manager of the establishment.
Generally, three packs per nucleus correspond, and although some time ago two were given first and then the other, the situation has stabilized in the last four months, he adds.
He explains that 3,153 packs were received in that market in July, and it is normal for all the nuclei to buy them, even when about 60% of that population does not smoke, but “they come running to buy them, to sell them.”
In front of another establishment in the city, Josuá Sánchez, a retiree, confesses that yes, he gives way to the one that corresponds to him because it is a way of income to alleviate his monetary situation.
Through social networks, frequently Granma receives concerns about the marketing of this product. Readers like Pablo Sánchez, a resident of Vedado, in Havana, point out that in the Cupet on 25th and G, where “the shifts are supposed to be given against the existing inventory”, as with other merchandise, it has happened to him that they run out and they reappear when authorities arrive, such as the District Delegate or the Police.
“The invoice must be public, and the Delegate or someone from the Government must go to show it to them, and show it to the public, so that they can keep track,” says the reader, who addresses negative aspects of the link between wineries and certain shopping centers that are poorly supplied compared to others in the same municipality.
Currently, in many parts of Havana, as in other provinces, consumers are faced with the dilemma of buying packs on the black market at prices that can exceed 200 pesos, or queuing at stores in freely convertible currency (MLC). ).
In state stores and cafeterias, where this product must be marketed in cups, its scarcity is becoming more acute.
Cigarettes are not among the products contemplated in the regulated basic family basket; however, its distribution is carried out on a monthly basis, although not always within the corresponding period, he informed Granma Francisco Silva Herrera, General Director of Merchandise Sales of the Ministry of Domestic Trade.
There is also no monthly distribution plan, he said, since it is determined by the offer that the supply company is capable of generating. From there, the provincial and local governments, together with the commercial companies of the territories, determine the distribution per capita or by composition of nuclei.
He also explained that the commercialized brands depend on the factory-province link, as well as on the productive capacities.
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
With the citizens’ questions in hand, we approached the Tabacuba Business Group, responsible for the production of the cigar that is consumed in the country through its four factories: Segundo Quincosa, in Havana; Ramiro Lavandero, in Villa Clara; Juan D’Mata Reyes, in Sancti Spíritus; and Lázaro Peña, in Holguín, as well as the mixed company Brascuba Cigarrillos, sa, located in the Mariel Special Development Zone.
Tabacuba expected, in 2021, that for this year there would be a more stable situation, but the production plan of the state factories, from January to June 2022, is 47% fulfilled.
Group sources assured that the delay “is mainly due to the lack of direct materials used in the cigarette industry such as cigarette paper, labels (cigar box) and wrapping paper (cigarette wheel or package), which caused the stoppage of factories in January, March and May».
Since then, production has not stopped and it hopes to continue in the factories in Havana, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus, which have material coverage until September. Meanwhile, the corresponding actions are carried out to guarantee the necessary inputs to complete the year’s production, they added.
Regarding the Holguín cigar factory, Tabacuba reported that it will stop until the end of August, due to lack of labels. “The paper used in its manufacture will arrive in the country in the first half of August and must be processed in the printing presses before arriving at the factory.”
As in other sectors of the Cuban economy, the problems of delays in the arrival of direct materials needed by the industry increased in the face of the difficult international economic situation: “The non-availability of ships, the high price of freight and the distance from suppliers caused delays in imports and required redoing contracts, which had a negative impact on the production levels of the national industry.
They also explain that the country’s complex energy situation has influenced production results, since it has been necessary for state factories to stop machines during peak hours from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
A STRATEGY TO STABILIZE PRODUCTION
Tabacuba and the management of each factory have drawn up a strategy to stabilize production, argues the Group’s management, detailing in the information provided that “state factories have established work on non-working Saturdays and the reduction of massive vacation time. Also, some factories are working two shifts.”
Another alternative is the search for new suppliers and service providers in the national industry, and it was determined to use the paper intended for the manufacture of the wrappers to make the labels and wholesale the cigarette boxes inside cardboard boxes.
They add that, given the problems that production has had, Brascuba’s results have helped alleviate this situation.
«This joint venture dedicated to the manufacture of cigarettes of the brands H. Upmann, Popular with filter, Rothmans, Dunhill and Cohiba, with their respective lines, fulfills its production plan to date at 86%. For this, it has implemented three work shifts seven days a week, “they detail.
“Currently, Brascuba not only sells directly to chain stores, but also to the Tobacco Marketing Company in Rama La Vega, and this, in turn, to the Wholesale Food Products Marketing Company (EMPA) , which is responsible for its distribution and marketing to units of the retail network, “they add. They pointed out that, for this to happen, Tabacuba subsidizes the cost in USD of the production of cigarettes for sale to the population in national currency.
In the case of state factories, it is specified that they sell their cigarette production to the Tobacco Marketing Company in Rama La Vega, and this, in turn, to EMPA, or they do so directly to the latter.