Reports from Cuba: ‘Coppelia ice cream no longer tastes like milk, but like soy, like mincemeat’

Juan Diego Rodriguez reports in 14yMedio from Havana via Translating Cuba:

‘Coppelia Ice Cream No Longer Tastes like Milk, But like Soy, Like Mincemeat’

The new ice cream prices  have been on the menu board since this week.

“It doesn’t taste like milk, it tastes like a powder that they give to the elderly on the ration book called lactosoy. That’s the flavor,” complains Ernesto, a Havanan at the gates of Coppelia. A local regular and fan of ice cream, the young man went to the popular ice cream parlor for the first time since the price increase on Thursday, but his discomfort could not have been greater.

After paying 90 pesos for two five-ball ’salads’, his conclusion was that it was made with soy milk, a product that, in addition to his disliking it, “it dislikes me.” He hates those inventions of the Special Period: soy mincemeat, soy burgers and croquettes, even soy yogurt. And now the soy ice cream.

“This ice cream doesn’t have milk. The other day I was here, when they announced that they were going to raise prices and in the end they didn’t, and the ice cream had milk, it was good that day. And now they raise the price and it doesn’t have milk,” he protests.

Last Friday, the capital city’s government announced that Coppelia’s ice cream scoop would have a price of 9 pesos, while Varadero’s ice cream, of lower quality,  would be priced at 7. The Internal Trade Business Group indicated that the cost “of fresh milk had risen, which impacts the wholesale costs of industrial production of milk, as is the case of ice cream.”

When customers like Ernesto went to the store on Saturday, located in Havana’s Vedado district, they breathed a sigh of relief to see that the prices were the same and the quality was not inferior. The measure was postponed until Tuesday, according to what the employees told 14ymedio, and this was confirmed today, when this newspaper visited the ice cream parlor again. However, complaints about the taste of the product were the dominant note.

“I asked the employee if they were adding soy instead of milk and she laughed. I asked the custodian and he told me that they had been adding soy for a while,” insists the customer.

Ernesto’s order of five-scoop ice cream ‘salads’ was not to his liking. After paying 90 pesos, the ice cream tasted like soy.

This newspaper consulted with the Coppelia worker about the preparation of the product, but she claimed not to know. “I can’t tell you what’s in the ice cream, if it has milk or soy, because here what we do is sell the ice cream. If you want to know what’s in it, you have to call the factory,” she said.

The answer is unusual, since the store is depriving their customers of knowing the composition of a product and exposing them to possible risks if, for example, they have an allergy or intolerance.

At the Complejo Lácteo company, which manufactures Coppelia ice cream, a worker insists that what is being said “on social networks is a lie” and the ice cream has the same formulation as always.

However, since the beginning of the year, several provinces have been alerted to the change in the preparation of Coppelia ice cream and the authorities admitted in a report by Telecubanacán, in Villa Clara, that the change is not a response to a desire to diversify the offer with plant-based milk or eliminate milk with lactose or animal origin, a trend in many European countries.

“The reality is that the ice cream we have right now is not what the population expects, but it has good quality. It is an ice cream made with 50% soy and 50% milk, flavorings and stabilizers. The problem is that consumers are used to ice cream made only with cream, but right now we don’t have that possibility because right now the country doesn’t have enough raw material (milk),” he said.

On that occasion, the official admitted that the price increase was linked to the price of soy milk, more expensive than cow’s milk in general terms. “The price of ice cream is according to the cost of the raw material and that is set through Provincial Finance and really the decision of the cost lists already comes from Havana. It is at the country level.”

But it is forced by the shortage of cow’s milk.