A growing influx of American tourists and an expanding private hospitality industry are putting pressure on Cuba's largest brewer, Bucanero. Reuters reports that the brand is considering opening up another plant and importing beer in order to meet consumer demands.
Bucanero is a joint venture between the Cuban government and international beer giant Anheuser Busch InBev. The company produces two of the most widely consumed brews in the country: its namesake, Bucanero, and Cristal. The Costa Rica Star reports that Bucanero is aiming to produce 19 million cases of beer this year, while importing 3 million cases of Presidente from the Dominican Republic.
In the past five years, President Raul Castro has loosened regulations on the restaurant industry, allowing private businesses to flourish. Meanwhile, President Obama announced in 2014 that the U.S. would begin "normalizing" relations with Cuba. These policy changes have lead to an enormous growth in American tourism. A record 3.5 million tourists visited the country in 2015 — a year over year increase of 17 percent. That number is expected to grow. According to The Guardian, Carnival will launch cruises from Miami to Cuba this spring.
In a landmark moment in foreign relations, the Obamas visited Cuba in March and dined on steak and pork at a family-owned restaurant called San Cristóbal Paladar. Television hosts have also turned to the Caribbean nation now that relations with the U.S. are improving. Last year, Conan O'Brien also visited a Cuban paladar and feasted on a massive spread while taking in the scene. Likewise, on CNN's award-winning travelogue Parts Unknown took chef Anthony Bourdain to Havana in season 7 where he explored how the country might be impacted by increasing tourism.