Headline: “Cocoa Derivatives Factory in Baracoa, Cuba, Faces Delays in Technological Renovation”
Subheadline: Rubén David Suárez Abella Cocoa Derivatives Factory falls behind schedule on million-dollar investment for technological upgrade.
Baracoa, Cuba – The Rubén David Suárez Abella cocoa derivatives factory, the only one of its kind in Cuba, was slated to undergo a million-dollar technological renovation in 2017. The aim was to complete the process within nine months to prevent a shortage of products in the country. However, the project has faced significant delays, and recent reports suggest that it is finally nearing completion.
Established by Ernesto Guevara in 1963, the Rubén David Suárez Abella factory processes cocoa and supplies raw materials to eight other chocolate factories in Cuba. Its modernization became necessary due to outdated equipment that hindered production. The initial investment was projected to be 8.5 million pesos, but the final cost amounted to a total of 43 million in national and foreign currency.
The upgrade involved installing state-of-the-art equipment, including a cocoa debacterization process previously unavailable in the factory. This process ensures compliance with international microbiological standards and opens the possibility for Cuba to export new cocoa products to the global market. The financing for the project was entirely Cuban, with German and Italian companies providing equipment and training for Cuban technicians.
The renovation project’s timeline began in June 2018, with the removal of old machinery and the installation of essential auxiliary elements. The mechanical assembly of two technological lines commenced, one from the German brand Buhler for cocoa processing and another from the Italian firm Mazzetti for chocolate production. Despite initial intentions to complete the process within nine months, the project faced several setbacks.
By March 2019, the assembly had not progressed as planned, and the start-up of the plant was postponed to August of that year. Problems persisted, and the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated matters. Both national and foreign workers had to withdraw, suspending the installation, equipment testing, staff training, and commissioning.
In February 2020, a new target completion date was announced for May 31. However, delays continued, aggravated by the pandemic’s ongoing impact. By the end of 2021, the factory was reported to be almost ready on the Cuban side, with both lines 95% complete. Remaining tasks included the installation of wrapping machines for the Italian line, which had been waiting for foreign technicians to arrive in Cuba for two years.
The delays in the project have been attributed to non-compliance by suppliers and the pause imposed by the pandemic. The Cuban side claims that foreign technicians have not yet validated the equipment, causing issues with the synchronization of the wrapping machine. Disagreements between Cuban and foreign parties remain unresolved, preventing the signing of the project’s official end.
As the factory approaches completion, the Cuban people wait anxiously for news of its final inauguration and the recovery of the significant investment made. The Rubén David Suárez Abella cocoa derivatives factory’s story is far from over, and updates are eagerly awaited.