Spending on imports jumped with rising food prices during the first part of the year, said the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. It climbed increased more after three hurricanes hit the island, crippling food production in many parts of the countryside.
Cuban food and farm imports from the U.S. have climbed annually since 2001, a year after the U.S. modified its trade embargo to allow the direct, cash-only sale of farm goods to the island. The U.S. is Cuba's top foreign source of food.
Hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma hit Cuba in 2008, causing more than $10 billion in damage and forcing a sharp increase in food imports.
The Cuban government has not released a breakdown of import or export figures for the year.