HAVANA – The Brascuba cigarette firm on Tuesday began work on its new factory in the Mariel Special Development Zone, the first Cuban company to launch construction in the area that aspires to be a focal point for foreign investment on the communist island.
Brascuba, a mixed company formed in 1995 by Brazil’s Souza Cruz and Cuba’s Tabacuba, hopes to produce some 15 billion cigarettes each year when the new $100 million factory begins operations in the second half of 2018.
Souza Cruz vice president Leonardo Serra and Tabacuba president Justo Luis Fuentes were on hand to officially lay the first stone of the factory’s foundation at a ceremony marking the start of the project’s construction phase.
“With the ongoing search for efficiency, we can move forward toward excellence and guarantee that the expansion of our business can be double or triple the current numbers,” Serra said.
The Tabacuba chief said that investment in the new factory “means development and elevating the efficiency of Brascuba after 21 years of operations not devoid of difficulties.”
The modern plant will take up 10.8 hectares (27 acres) and will feature the most advanced technology with the aim of increasing productivity, which – along with reducing costs due to customs advantages available within the Special Zone – will make its cigarettes more competitive in the international market.
In addition, the design of the factory will guarantee the highest standards of environmental protection, security and workers’ health, with more than 70 percent of the complex classified as “green” areas, the installation of a system preventing the release of tobacco dust and a waste treatment and water recycling station.
Brascuba currently produces around 3.5 billion cigarettes annually using Cuban tobacco at its factory in the Havana district of Luyano.
Next Friday, the Dutch company Unilever will also begin construction of a new plant in the Mariel development zone in association with the Cuban firm Suchel to produce cleaning and personal hygiene products.