Dry CargoEurope

Altered global grain shipments map blunts bulk tonne-mile picture

An unseasonal spike in grain shipment between the US and Europe has seen 718,000 tonnes of grain shipped across the Atlantic in May as of yesterday, according to data from Braemar ACM. This compares to just 64,000 tonnes in the whole of May last year, and shows the stark realities of how Europe has had to rush for alternative grain sources with Ukrainian ports being shut since Vladimir Putin sent Russian forces in at the end of February.

April also saw a massive 717,000 tonnes of grain shipped from the US to Europe.

However, the bigger picture of global grain shipments from a tonne-mile perspective is not good news for shipowners with new research from brokers Arrow showing that a tighter balance of grains in the Atlantic has led to more cargoes staying within the basin, denting Asia’s market share.

Over the next year the grain market will not provide noteworthy shipping demand growth

Normally at this time of year when cargoes are flooding out of South America towards Asia, average voyage distances increase. However this year the trend is less pronounced, and even looks to be reversing, according to Arrow.

Whilst overall panamax tonne-miles are at similar levels to last year, the proportion coming from the grain trade is at a seasonally low level. This time last year about 30% of panamax tonne-miles came from the grain trade, today it is around 23%, Arrow data shows.

“It’s looking increasingly unlikely that over the next 12 months the grain market will provide noteworthy shipping demand growth,” analysts at Arrow warned.

In related news, Italian prime minister yesterday told reporters that following a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin he was confident grain exports blocked in Black Sea ports could start to move again. Russian officials have claimed that they are willing to let Ukrainian crops be loaded for export in return for the easing of some sanctions.

“The first initiative one could begin to explore is to see whether a cooperation between Russia and Ukraine to unblock Black Sea ports could be built,” Draghi said.

Draghi said he would soon talk to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on this issue.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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