Raspberries, the World Cup, and Life Expectancy in Cuba
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How many people attend the World Cup?
The raspberry boom in Mexico
Cubans are living long lives
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Almost 600K spectators witnessed the 1930 FIFA World Cup in Uruguay in person, the first ever of its kind. That was a surprising figure, given that this was the first time ever that the tournament was held. The host nation beat Argentina 4-2 in the final — one of the 8 World Cups won by the host.
In 2018, about 3M people attended the World Cup in Russia—a demonstration of how football has become a global phenomenon in the last century. While that figure is remarkably high, the previous World Cup ranks fourth in attendance. The #1 title belongs to the 1994 World Cup in the United States, which attracted more than 3.5M spectators in total—given their massive arenas, and a sports-oriented culture, this may not be entirely surprising. And in second place? Brazil 2014.
The Qatar World Cup, set to begin this Sunday, is only expected to bring 1.2M foreign visitors. This likely means that Qatar won't break the assistance record this year; it may have numbers close to or below the 70s, which would be a substantial drop. However, it may break the overall viewership record. When adding TV, streaming services, and YouTube, more people watch football than ever before. More than half of the world watched the 2018 World Cup — 3.5B people.
Does this chart look familiar? After publishing the story about blueberries in Peru, someone suggested we look into raspberries in Mexico, which has also exploded — production has grown 128x in 20 years.
Berries are not traditionally part of the Mexican diet. They originated in Turkey and spread to Europe. Early settlers of the US then brought it to the Western Hemisphere, and it became part of their summer diet since the harvest typically comes from June through August.
Only recently has the bright-red fruit, touted for health benefits, started to be consumed in the winter, largely thanks to Mexico's meteoric rise into the industry. Clever farmers, principally from Jalisco, Baja California, and Michoacan, have made good use of the climate advantage in the country, where they can grow raspberries in the spring, summer, and fall. They time their harvests to the winter when it's impossible for many producers to compete, and thus prices are at their highest.
Also, thanks partly to the seasonal advantage, but also low production costs, a border to the most prominent market (US), and free trade, Mexico's production has a very competitive land yield and has grown to become #2 worldwide, just behind Russia.
Aneberries, which unites Mexico's producers of raspberries, strawberries, etc., stated that the overall berries market would reach 584K tons this year, representing $3B. If that happens, it will make berries the 3rd most significant food export, after beer and avocados, even beating tequila and mezcal combined.
Ever since the Cuban revolution and its adoption of communism, many rights have been stripped away from citizens, but one thing is clear: the country has created one of the most remarkable health systems in the world.
Recognizing health as a human right was fundamental in developing practices that have fostered a population much healthier than the average Latin American and now lives longer than a US citizen. What's more, yearly health expenditure per capita in Cuba is 1/10th that of the US (but almost twice that of LatAm).
With extremely limited resources, the country has gotten inventive:
It trains the highest number of doctors available to its population globally through what Ban Ki-Moon has called "the world's most advanced medical school."
Family doctors take care of everyone in their assigned neighborhood and knock on citizens' doors at least once a year for a check-up.
A comprehensive (and mandatory) vaccination program
Cuba having a comparable life expectancy to the US is not new. It went slightly above the US in 1980 and has stayed at similar ages for both countries. The gap widened when in 2020, US life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years — the largest drop in 100+ years.
COVID has so far claimed more than 1M lives in the US due in large part to high numbers of comorbidities and a refusal by many to vaccinate. On the other hand, Cuba had a total of 8.5K reported deaths and has been commended for its response to the pandemic. Not a single COVID death has been reported in almost six months.
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Comment of the week, in response to our chart about Whirlpool in LatAm. To be clear, we don’t endorse this view, we just find it funny.
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