Is Cuban Sugar Still Relevant?

Cuban sugar plantation

Learn more about our Cuba Culinary Tour and explore Cuban culture through its cuisine.

Cuba Sugar, Coffee, Rum, Tobacco

Sounding a lot like the stores of a pirate ship, Cuba’s main agricultural exports are legendary. Rum is easily associated with this Caribbean hot spot, as are cigars. In fact, there is nowhere in the world more famous for cigars than Cuba. But Cuban sugar and coffee also make headlines in Cuba, often impacting local life and the economy, as they have for centuries.

At Access Culinary Trips, we enable our guests to explore culture through cuisine. It’s what we’re all about. But that means more than just tasting delicious foods and experiencing top restaurants, it also means exploring where food comes from. In addition, the histories of the locations we visit often play a vital part of the food story we tell. In Cuba, trade has long shaped the culture, climate, and politics of this island nation. Immigration, exploration, world conquests and slavery too are part of the food culture we see today in Cuba. Come with us on our 8-day culinary tour to find out for yourself just what makes the smooth soul of Cuba tick, beyond the Afro-Cuban beat.

Growing Cuban Sugar

What makes coffee delectable, chocolate palatable and pastry chefs the world over swoon? Sugar. This grass variety is grown in warm tropical climates around the equator. Though it provides a heavily-relied-on food staple, it’s history is not so sweet.

The popularity of sugar and the geographic centrality of Cuba have created centuries of an economy based on the exploitation of indigenous cultures and crops, the initiation of the slave trade and the eventual economic downfall of Cuba after the Soviet Union collapsed. Still, sugar remains a top agricultural product from Cuba.

Cuba was once the largest exporter of Sugar in the world and although production has dropped dramatically, Cuban sugar is still grown for export. In growing regions, which are often far from rapidly modernized Havana, sugar towns rely on make-shift automation to cut and carry crops. While slavery is a thing of the past, the common man is still valued as labor over the machine, because machines are simply unavailable.

The Answer to Cuba’s Woes?

Sugar was seen for quite some time as the answer to Cuba’s money woes when communism first took hold, but without large purchasing countries like the Soviet Union, and with land and geographic limitations in growth output, Cuba’s main economy has never really helped frost the cake quite enough.

Today sugar production is in decline with only 50-60 sugar mills still in production (down from over 500). This export still makes up a considerable piece of the Cuba money pie, but it’s clear that sugar is not and will not be what helps Cuba solves its financial stresses in the long term. We think probably that falls on tourism, and tours like ours that help the outside world discover Cuba, a hidden gem.

Tour Cuba with Access Culinary Trips this year, and discover what has made this our most popular destination.