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Containerized Grain Shippers Feeling Brunt of Tight Market

North American containerized grain shippers are feeling the effects of the tight container market and there’s no relief in sight.

“It’s very difficult to get containers to move grain,” said Greg Northey, vice president of corporate affairs for Pulse Canada. About 30% of what Canadian pulse producers export travels via containers.

Rates have gotten so high that it makes the whole supply chain uncompetitive

Rates have gotten so high that it makes the whole supply chain uncompetitive, Northey said. Pulse producers can book a container, but they risk not having any containers available at the ports, he said.

High container rates are the result of ocean shipping companies wanting to meet demand for containerized imports, according to agricultural consultant Jay O’Neil and recent FreightWaves reports.

“Allowing the return of empty inland containers in the U.S. to be delayed, even for a day or two, is now very inconvenient and uneconomical. Providing containers filled with grains a week or more time to unload at Asian destinations is even more inefficient in these tight times,” O’Neil said. “So from an ocean shipping company’s perspective, backhaul grain shipments are no longer as attractive as they have been. This has obviously caused problems, and increased costs, for sellers of U.S. containerized grains.”

“The good news, however, is that we are still seeing containerized export shipments of grains and improved interest for such from Asian buyers. The increased rates and difficult logistics have not yet stopped this type of business. But stay tuned,” O’Neil said.

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