Cuba is where we start today’s show; the nation is facing a food shortage that’s being influenced by events abroad. If you already knew how to spell bourrée, drahthaar, and aalii, you’ll have no problem with our second story. And we’re exploring the growing market for plant-based meat alternatives and explaining why the industry may face challenges in the years ahead.
CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hi, I`m Carl Azuz. First topic today on CNN 10 concerns chicken, eggs and soap. Three items available right now at practically any grocery store in America but much harder to come by and afford in a country just 90 miles from U.S. soil. Cuba has a food shortage. The Caribbean nation`s communist government has put what it calls regulations, which are rations, on meats and cleaning products. The reason, there are fewer of them on the island and the government says it`s trying to make sure what is available is distributed equally. Cuba imports 2/3 of its food from other countries and its economy has been heavily influenced by what happens abroad.
For instance, Cuba used to be supported by the former Soviet Union but that support ended in 1990 when the communist block was getting ready to collapse. That sent Cuba into a depression. By the end of the `90s , things were getting better for Cuba`s economy and that was thanks to oil provided by Venezuela but as that country`s economy has crumbled in recent years those oil supplies have dried up and so once again Cuba may be facing a crisis.
The country has voiced support for the Venezuelan government and that`s resulted in economic penalties from the United States which opposes Venezuela`s government. How bad could things get for Cuba? The nation`s communist party leader recently indicated that conditions probably won`t be as difficult as they were in the early and mid `90s but that his nation had to be ready for the worst. Signs of trouble have already reached Cuban shores and moved inland.
PATRICK OPPMAN, CNN CUBAN CORRESPONDENT: Juana (ph) leaves her old Havana apartment to see if there is at the bodega. That`s what Cubans call these small neighborhood markets that carry products subsidized by the government. The options have always been scarce but these days Juana (ph) says there is less and less for people like her. Juana (ph) is retired with a government pension of about $12 a month and she washes laundry for her neighbors so she can afford to eat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE TRANSLATED: If you work you don`t get anything she says. When you go to a market, there`s nothing. The people who buy to resell take everything.
OPPMAN: Facing the worst food shortages in years, the Cuban government is implementing even stricter rationing on increasingly hard to find products like chicken, eggs and soap. The government blames the shortages on increased U.S. sanctions but the slow collapse of socialist ally Venezuela which sends Cuba most of the islands supply of oil is also taking a toll. Cuba imports most of its food its citizens consume and the government has a monopoly on those imports. Cuban officials have told the populous to remain calm. Every day though there are longer lines at this government run supermarket which charges for mostly imported goods at prices far beyond what many Cubans can afford to pay.
Hoarding of products is increasing as fears grow that a severe economic crisis is on the horizon. So there`s several hundred people here who have been here for hours waiting because the word has gotten out that there will be chicken at this market. I got a message on a social media app called Dondeacomido (ph), where is there food. The problem is though even if you get here you have to get here early to make sure you`re in the right place in line because by the time you get inside, there may be none left. For many Cubans this has become a daily ritual, waiting in lines for hours to buy a single item.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE TRANSLATED: I`ve been here for an hour, other people since 5 a.m. Aradomas (ph) tells me. On Mother`s Day I came at 9 a.m. and left at 4 p.m. It`s too many hours.
OPPMAN: The shortages came coincidentally just as the government finally gave Cubans widespread access to mobile internet. For the first time allowing frustrated consumers to post their photos on social media of endless lines and even the occasional fight breaking out. For people on the bottom like Juana (ph), the answer to the questions seem to be more government rationing so that everyone gets their share.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE TRANSLATED: It`s very expensive. Fruit is so expensive. Everything, she says. It`s because of the people who resell things. There should be a law making them lower the prices.
OPPMAN: Food shortages though despite near total government control are now out of control. Patrick Oppman, CNN, Havana.
AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. What is paisan? Is it a French dessert, flowering plant, a type of straw or a tunic. This is a type of straw that`s woven to make hats.
And that word is apparently one of the hardest for students to spell at the Scripts National Spelling Bee. The 2019 competition`s coming up next week in the U.S. state of Maryland and a group of linguists from Babel, a language learning tool teamed up with folks from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to determine the hardest words from the past decade. The ones that knocked out spelling bee contestants in the last round. They included several terms that came from other languages like French, German, and Italian and for many of them their pronunciations and meanings maybe as illusive as their spellings.
Consider schwarmerei, a German word that means excessive enthusiasm. Another French term was giardia a type of plant or flower. How about ayacahuite? A pine tree you`ll find in Mexico or cipollino an Italian word for a type of Roman marble. Lassie (ph), it`s a Hindi word for a yogurt drink. So was hocheque (ph) a Czech term for the mark that`s over the sea in this word. So if you`re an aspiring spelling champion practice these for a spell.
Up next today, if a meatball is meatless what kind of ball is it? A plant ball? The one that Ikea is developing is. The Swedish company is one of many trying to cash in on a growing demand for meat alternatives which are intended to taste like beef but be healthier. Not everyone`s on board.
For some consumers the taste of plant-based meat alternatives simply isn`t meaty enough. There`s also a growing consumer preference for simple, natural foods with few ingredients. Meat alternatives can have more than 15 ingredients. A U.S. food market analyst says, that could cause problems for the industry in the years ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unmistakable sizzle of meat on the grill. The real meat or the beyond meat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have our beyond burger over here and we have our beef burger over here. Once you dress them up, it`s impossible to tell the difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In this bare burger restaurant in Manhattan, burgers made from plant protein make up the meaty portion of sales.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The response has been great. It`s been so great in fact that our – – our menu is now 50 percent vegan.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For first timers it takes a little getting used to.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little smoky.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s like crispy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (inaudible) but it doesn`t taste like a real burger at all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investors though had no trouble taking their first bite beyond meat`s beefy IPO sold 160 percent on its first day of trading on May 2nd. The best IPO jump of a major U.S. company since the financial crisis. Analysts believe it`s part of a veggie revolution that`s just getting started.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it follows the same path that the plant-based beverage market followed, you`d see it growing from roughly $13 billion, $14 billion today up to potentially over $40 billion over the next decade.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: While Beyond Meats is not yet profitable, its revenues are up nearly 130 percent in each of the past three years and its expanding into new product categories like meatless sausage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not just vegans and vegetarians that are interested in this. In fact, 93 percent of the people that are putting the Beyond Burger in their carts, at the nation`s largest grocer, are also putting animal protein in their cart. It`s a tremendous sign that we`re able to grow the business.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much. Now the Beyond Burger, it does have some competition mainly from this one which is the Impossible Burger from Impossible Foods. That`s already on the menu at Burger King which is rolling out the Impossible Whopper. McDonalds is also selling a meatless burger in Germany made by Nusea (ph) and Tysons Foods one of the worlds biggest meat producers is also set to launch a fake meat. They both smell like meat. As for my first bite, well it felt like eating a burger just a little less beefy. Well I quite like them. They`re not quite exactly like meat but they are something interesting and I do think this might be a taste of things to come. (inaudible) CNN, New York.
AZUZ: Confirmed. Fire helmets can hold a maximum of 10 ducklings. That`s a recent tweet from South Metro Fire Rescue in Littleton, Colorado and here`s how they know. A recent call came in saying that ducklings had gotten stuck in a storm drain. The mother was waddling anxiously nearby but she had nothing to fear. Firemen worked together to retrieve the wayward babies, carefully carry them to a safe spot and reunite them with their mother.
They were “quack” to act. Their efforts fit the “bill”. They might have found it “draining” but if they “canvase” back to the area they`ll find they made a “teal” difference having had a “golden eye” for saving animals from a “mallardy” and not “ducking” out until everything was just “ducky” you all. I`m Carl Azuz and that`s CNN 10.