Could rum from Cuba be directly imported to the US for flavoring in rum raisin ice cream?

If the rum brand (and production) was not subject to intellectual property claims and not subject to claims which could brought under the Libertad Act (“Helms-Burton”) of 1996, authorizations created by the Obama Administration for the importation of products from the Republic of Cuba could be implemented:

In 2016, the Obama Administration added coffee to the list of eligible imports from the Republic of Cuba.  [Separately, charcoal was authorized.]  Rum could be added to the list of eligible imports.  

To be eligible for importation into the United States, a listed Cuban Assets Control Regulations (31 CFR Part 515) Section 515.582 product must be “produced by independent Cuban entrepreneurs, as demonstrated by documentary evidence.”  

From the United States Department of State: “Persons subject to US jurisdiction engaging in import transactions involving goods produced by an independent Cuban entrepreneur pursuant to 515.582 must obtain documentary evidence that demonstrates the entrepreneur's independent status, such as a copy of a license to be self-employed issued by the Cuban government, or in the case of an entity, evidence that demonstrates that the entity is a private entity that is not owned or controlled by the Cuban government.”

Currently, rum production and rum marketing in the Republic of Cuba is controlled by Republic of Cuba government-operated entities; and global distribution for some brands (including Havana Club) is through a joint venture with Paris, France-based Pernod Ricard (2016 revenues approximately US$10 billion).  

The government of the Republic of Cuba would create value by authorizing the creation (licensing) of small, independent, micro, artisan distilleries owned and/or managed by self-employed Republic of Cuba nationals.  In this way, rum (and/or rum extract) could be exported directly to the United States for sale-at-retail and for use as flavoring in ice cream.  The following brands have had, have, or could have rum raisin ice cream: 

365 (owned by Texas-based Whole Foods)
Ben & Jerry's (Vermont-based; owned by Unilever)
Haagen-Dazs (California-based; owned by Minnesota-based General Mills; distributed by Nestle SA)
Breyers (New Jersey-based; owned by Unilever)
Starbucks (owned by Washington-based Starbucks Corporation)
Dreyers (California-based; owned by Nestle SA)
Straus (owned by California-based Straus Family Creamery)
Blue Bell (owned by Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries)
Edy's (California-based; owned by Nestle SA)

Vevey, Switzerland-based Nestle SA (2016 revenues approximately US$94 billion) owns California-based Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings, Inc., and Oakland, California-based Edy’s Grand Ice Cream; and distributes Oakland, California-based Haagen-Dazs. 

London, United Kingdom-based Unilver Plc (2016 revenues approximately US$65 billion) owns South Burlington, Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s and Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey-based Breyers.

Nestle SA And Cuba

Nestle SA is positioning itself to be an importer to the United States of confections, coffee, ice cream, beverages, and other consumables sourced in the Republic of Cuba.  

Nestle SA has a multi-decade interest in the Republic of Cuba.  The company has a representative office in the city of Havana.  Since the 1990's, Nestle S.A. has been involved with Republic of Cuba government-operated companies to develop the confection industry (a twenty-year joint venture producing ice cream); has investments in bottled water production (Ciego Montero) and beverage production; and imports products for sale at retail stores.  In 2014, Nestle Nespresso released “Limited Edition Cubanía; Inspired by the passion and intensity of Cuban coffee ritual” that did not contain coffee from the Republic of Cuba.  The 2016 Cuban Nespresso Grand Cru Cafecito de Cuba capsule was to be available outside of the United States, but with the 22 April 2016 changes in United States regulations, an opportunity was created to add the United States to the global distribution channels.

In 2017, Nestle SA reported the company would invest approximately US$55 million to create a joint venture (of which it will own 51%) potentially employing 300 Republic of Cuba nationals to source ingredients for and to produce coffee, biscuits and cooking products.  Completion date is by 2019.  Other Nestle SA production facilities are being considered for expansion.

In 2016, New York, New York-based Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., a subsidiary of Nestle SA, purchased a container of approximately eighteen (18) tons of green coffee beans through London, United Kingdom-based Cubana Coffee & Roastery (, the established bar-restaurant and coffee roasting group, and London, United Kingdom-based The Cuba Mountain Coffee Company Ltd (  

The green coffee beans were sourced from the 2015-2016 harvest in the Republic of Cuba; the value was approximately US$5,000.00 per metric ton, or approximately US$90,000.00.  The beans were roasted at Nestle Nespresso facilities in Avenches and nearby Orbe, Switzerland. With approximately 20% lost during the roasting process, the result was approximately 180,000 capsules per ton- 3,240,000 limited edition Cafecito de Cuba capsules (approximately 5 to 6 grams each or .17 to .21 ounces).  The price for a limited-edition capsule was approximately US$1.10, so potential total revenue could be approximately US$3,564,000.00. Nestle Nespresso USA, Inc., has obtained additional green coffee beans from the 2016-2017 harvest in the Republic of Cuba and continues to produce capsules for distribution throughout the world, including in the United States.

Unilever Plc And Cuba

In November 2016, Unilver Plc commenced construction on a joint venture (of which it will own 60%) facility valued at US$35 million in the Republic of Cuba to produce soap, detergent, deodorant and toothpaste.  Production is scheduled to commence in 2018.  Unilever had a joint venture in the Republic of Cuba from the mid-1990's until 2012 when it ended due to operational disagreements.  The company continued to export products to the Republic of Cuba.