Archer Daniels Midland became the first US company on Thursday to sign contracts with Cuban food importer Alimport as an unprecedented US agricultural trade show got under way in Havana.
ADM chairman Allen Andreas signed contracts valued at $9 million for 25,000 tonnes of rice, 8,000 tonnes of soy oil and 10,000 tonnes of soy meal, said ADM corporate vice president Anthony DeLio.
The signing took place an hour after the fair, with 288 exhibitors from 33 US states, opened.
Cuba has purchased some 700,000 tons of US grains, other commodities, meat, produce and branded products since last November, valued at $140 million (€143m) including shipping, 16 per cent of the Caribbean island's annual food imports.
Alimport president Pedro Alvarez indicated his company would sign contracts valued at more than $50 million during the show, which closes on Monday.
An exception to the US trade embargo on Communist Cuba, signed in 2000, allows for heavily-regulated food sales on a cash basis. The embargo has been in force for over 40 years.
ADM, the main sponsor of the Havana event, previously reported it had sold 333,000 tons of corn, soy, wheat and other products to Alimport for $52 million.