Cuba’s Produce Markets at Year End

Cuban fruit and vegetable market.
Cuban fruit and vegetable market.

Vicente Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — Supply and demand free markets (MAOD) are the leading option for Cubans to be able to purchase fresh produce. The following is a panorama of prices in the first half of December.

(Prices in Pesos – national currency (CUP). 25 CUP = 1 Convertible Peso (CUC), the equivalent of 1 dollar (USD) (Measurements in pounds of 460 grams or per Unit)


Mercado y Producto Old Havana: (Ejidos) and Central Havana (San Rafael) Another 4 MAODs were investigated. *  “10 de Octubre” (Colina). Another 2 MAODs were investigated. Revolution Square: ( 19 and B Streets)**
Ripe Plaintain 3 / Medium-sized Unit 3 / Medium-sized Unit 4 / Unit (green)
Burro banana 1 / Medium-sized Unit 1 / Medium-sized Unit 1 / Unit
Various beans (Not black or chickpeas) 15-18 / Lb 20 / Lb 18 / Lb (Chickpeas 25)
Sweet Potato 2 / Lb 2 / Lb 3 / Lb
Malanga. 5-7 / Lb 6 / Lb 6 / Lb
Onion. 15 / Lb. 10-12 bunch of 6 small units. 15-18 / Bunch of 6 medium-sized units. 20 / Lb Large = 2 Units approx. = 1 Lb
Garlic. 3 / Small head 5 / Dekernelled in packets, for 1 meal. (Poor quality) 50-100 / Half Lb- 1 Lb Packets. Dekernelled, large and clean cloves.
Peppers. 4-5 / Medium-sized Unit 5 / Medium-sized Unit 15 / Lb Large
Tomatoes. 5-10 / Lb, salad. 5 / Lb, salad. 5-10 / Large, salad.
Chard. 5 / Medium-sized bunch 5 / Medium-sized bunch ——-
Corn on the cob. 7 / Lb ground. 5 / 2 small cobs 8 / Lb ground. 8/ Lb ground.
Papaya 5 / Lb 4-5 / Lb ——-
Guava. 2 / Large Unit (Poor quality) ——–
Pineapple. 10-12 / Medium-sized unit 10-12 / Medium-sized unit 15 / Large unit.
Boneless Pork (Steak) 35-40 / Lb 40 / Lb 50 / Lb (55 Fillet)
Boneless mutton (Steak) 40 / Lb (Poor quality) (Chop) 40 / Lb
Boneless ham hocks. 50 / Lb (Poor quality) ———


(*) Central Havana and Old Havana, neighboring and interconnected neighborhoods, have very similar prices.

(**) It’s called “the rich people’s market”. Located in a residential area: embassies, hotels, many rental houses for tourists and luxury restaurants. Produce for sale is of greater quality than in bodega stores.

The 4 municipalities surveyed, have a total of 576,431 inhabitants (2014), over 25% of the city’s entire population. This figure remains more or less stable with signs of a slight decrease. While Central Havana is the most dense in terms of population, around 50,000 inhabitants / km2, 10 de Octubre only reaches 19,000.

Old Havana, Central Havana and Revolution Square – “Vedado”- represent the main urban center, near the sea and the bay, the tourist track. There is a contrast between high-income, medium and low-income houses. “10 de Octubre” is considered to be on the outskirts.


Basic products such as beans, bananas, tomatoes, corn, spices (garlic, onion and peppers), as well as seasonal fruits, have similar absolute values as they did last year.

The slight, but widespread decrease with regard to boneless pork is particularly striking, which can now be bought for 5-10 CUP less per pound than you could a few months back.

An interesting detail is the state’s policy of creating many smaller MAOD-style markets, taking away the importance from large concentrated spaces.

Not forgetting that the economy works as one: Hard currency stores had to lower the prices, by law, of some of their offers (frozen chicken and vegetable oil particularly stand out). The same thing happened with rice, split peas and sugar at the chain of stores called “Ideal”, run by the state, which sell in CUP.

On the other hand, the regular sale of bread and sweets, of medium quality, has kept prices and offers stable.

Then you have the black market, whose prices follow those indicated in the aforementioned markets.

Just like I wrote in one of my previous articles about markets in Cuba, many factors indicate that there will be a global increase in the income for a part of the population: remittances, tourism, self-employed workers and partial wage increases.

A significant number of Cubans have improved their earnings, the contradiction, however, is that the others, which up until today has been impossible to translate into trustworthy statistics, don’t enjoy such benefits and therefore the relationship between wages and what they pay for food doesn’t apply to them which means that there is a relative drop in market prices.

Clear evidence of this is the so-called “rich people’s market” (19 and B streets) where packets of garlic cloves are sold unabashedly for 20, 50 and 100 CUP, while in the Ejidos neighborhood and its surroundings, they wouldn’t dare be sold for more than 5-10 CUP.

As this current month draws to an end, we shouldn’t be surprised by the slight increase in prices for some products which are directly linked to speculation which always goes hand-in-hand with New Year celebrations.

The increase in food prices appears to have come to a halt in terms of absolute prices, while a decrease can be seem across the board relatively, marked by the contrasts of reforms themselves which have been applied, are limited, but still in force.

Via this digital website, I will continue to give a monthly follow-up on this present study.

Vicente Morin Aguado. [email protected]