Maritime News

US Grain Exports Rise as Terminals Recover from Ida

U.S. grain exports increased last week as shippers along the Louisiana Gulf Coast recovered from flooding and widespread power outages caused by Hurricane Ida’s Aug. 29 landfall, but volumes were much lower than normal, preliminary data showed on Monday.

Just seven export vessels were loaded with grain and soybeans at Louisiana Gulf Coast terminals in the week ended Sept. 16, down from 23 vessels in the same week last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data showed.

Ida crippled overseas grain shipments weeks before the start of the Midwest harvest and the busiest period for U.S. crop exports, sending export prices soaring and stoking global worries about food inflation.

Weekly USDA grain inspections data, an early indicator of shipments abroad, showed the volume of corn weighed and certified for export last week reached 403,104 tonnes, up from the previous week’s revised tally of 159,429 tonnes, an 8-1/2 year low.

For soybeans, weekly export inspections reached 275,169 tonnes, up from the prior week’s revised count of 193,429 tonnes.

The USDA said 199,849 tonnes of corn and 150,272 tonnes of soybeans in the latest week were inspected along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. The figures marked an improvement from the prior week, when no grain was inspected at the busiest outlet for U.S. crops.

Still, for corn, the latest figure was down about 48% from the year-ago inspections figure of 768,084 tonnes.

More than 60 bulk vessels were lined up along the lower Mississippi River on Monday waiting to dock and load with grain once terminals reopen, an industry vessel lineup report and Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed.

Most of the nearly dozen large grain terminals dotted along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico escaped the storm with minor damage, but the region’s devastated power grid hobbled the recovery.

Cargill Inc said it reopened its Westwego, Louisiana, grain export terminal last week, by which time rivals Louis Dreyfus Co and Archer-Daniels-Midland Co had been loading export shipments for several days.

A Destrehan, Louisiana, facility owned by Bunge Ltd has been “running intermittently,” the company said on Thursday, while CHS Inc said it expected its Myrtle Grove, Louisiana, export terminal to be operational by the height of the U.S. corn and soy harvest, which typically peaks in October.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Additional reporting by Karl Plume; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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