The Habana Libre’s Famous Bakery Is Out of Sugar and Its Signature Cake
La Dulce Habana, where one would normally see a crowd of people on any given day, has no sugar. On Friday, the bakery, located on the corner of 25th and L streets in the Habana Libre Hotel in the heart of the Cuban capital, was eerily quiet.
One employee had to repeat the same line over and over to anyone who came in and asked the same questions. When are you going to be selling cake? When will you have sugar? When? “I wish I knew when. They still haven’t let us know. At least they’ve closed the front door,” said the employee. The bakery is one of the few places in the city where customers can still buy good-quality cakes for pesos, although at high prices. (The so-called “special cake” costs 3,000 pesos.)
The few items for sale are prepared with ready-made products, such as apples covered in chocolate cream (at 150 pesos), donuts also dipped in chocolate and tartlets made with canned fruit.
“I’m sick of hearing about the sugar situation,” says one frustrated woman as she leaves the store.
The fact that the country’s most iconic raw material has been largely unavailable to consumers for decades raises people’s ire. A little less than a month ago the government announced that sugar deliveries in 2023 would be meager given the disastrous results of the most recent harvest, to date the worst in history. Of the 911,000 tons of sugar forecast, only 480,000 were produced, a shortfall of 60,000, which will have serious a impact on both national consumption and the export market. The 2022-2023 harvest follows in the footsteps of the previous year’s poor results, with no improvement in sight.
Although the government announced in May of 2020 that sugar would be available on a rationed basis, food stores have found it necessary to find a solution to ongoing shortages of the product.