Canadian grain shipments through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway trade corridor are up 20 per cent in response to continuing world demand for wheat and canola, the latest figures show.
Year-to-date shipments of grain (from April 1 to August 31) totaled 5.2 million tonnes, as ships transported Prairie wheat and canola and Ontario wheat and soybeans for both domestic use and for export to markets around the world.
The rush of grain, which is carry over from last year’s crops, has helped to offset continuing pandemic-related declines in other key cargoes such as iron ore (down 23%), dry bulk (down 11%), and liquid bulk (down 23%). Overall year-to-date cargo shipments via the Seaway totaled 19.3 million tonnes, down 8% compared to the same period in 2019.
The Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports) continues to see grain numbers improve, with grain exports within their port network hitting the million-tonne mark in August. The ports of Hamilton and Oshawa provide critical export infrastructure for Ontario-grown corn, wheat and soybeans.
“We have attracted more than $200 million in new agri-food sector investment at our ports inside the last decade,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “As crop yields continue to improve, and as new trade agreements like CETA create more export opportunities, these ports will be even more essential for Canadian producers.”
Burlington-based ship operator McKeil Marine also reported that its grain volumes were up 13 per cent in August, and it announced this month that it had acquired a bulker vessel from Europe that will be delivered to Canada to add to its domestic fleet. Built in 2012, the M/V Juliana will be re-flagged as a Canadian vessel and be renamed the Harvest Spirit. The Harvest Spirit will service a long-standing customer of McKeil who is striving to meet the strong market demand for Canadian grain, soybean and canola products.
McKeil’s President, Scott Bravener, commented: “Nationally, our grain markets continue to perform well. In fact, the demand for Canadian grain is booming, which is particularly encouraging news in these challenging times. Our grain exports are bolstering overall cargo shipment volumes in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and the Harvest Spirit will allow for McKeil’s continued growth in this robust domestic market.”
Demand for Western Canada’s large 2019 harvest accelerated this spring, as global supply chains were disrupted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.