For the first time in modern history, Cuba has to import sugar due to several poor sugarcane harvests in a row. According to a report from Agence France Presse (AFP), the former world leader in sugarcane production has slowly seen a decline of its cash crop ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
During its heyday, sugar comprised around 75 percent of Cuba’s total exports, but by 2015 that number had shrunk down to just 13 percent. According to AFP, Cuba’s largest exports are now tobacco and nickel. The crop was further damaged in 2017 by Hurricane Irma, and an unusually wet rainy season compounded the problem.
Now, Cubans will be using sugar imported from France, which has a similar taste but looks different from what the citizens are accustomed to using. According to AFP, the French sugar is made from beets and appears smaller and whiter than the large, brown granules of traditional sugarcane sugar.
“The sugar we get now is very good. It is very sweet, not very different. The only difference is the color,” said 40-year-old Felicia Navarro, a Cuban citizen while speaking to AFP.