Export demand keeps Thunder Bay grain traffic solid

MarketsFarm — Grain movement out of Thunder Bay continues to run at a very strong pace, with shipments to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa behind much of the increased movement.

As of Saturday, more than two million metric tonnes of grain have been directly exported from Thunder Bay elevators by ocean-going (saltie) vessels during the shipping season, according to the latest data from the port. That marked a 54 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The direct exports complement the 4.9 million tonnes of grain shipped to other Seaway and Great Lakes ports, much of which is transferred to larger salties for export from the St. Lawrence River.

Total grain exports in 2020 to date out of Thunder Bay, at 6.898 million tonnes, are up by about 1.3 million tonnes from 2019.

Record European imports of Canadian canola contributed to the increased grain movement out of Thunder Bay, according to a release from the port.

Canadian Grain Commission data through September showed European customers had imported about 400,000 tonnes of Canadian canola during the first two months of the 2020-21 marketing year, with the bulk of that moving through Thunder Bay. That’s up by about 178 per cent on the year.

The rise in grain shipments in Thunder Bay this season has more than offset decreases in bulk shipments of coal and potash.

Coal movement to date of 314,631 tonnes was roughly half of what moved during the same time in 2019. Total potash movement of just under 250,000 tonnes was down by about 25 per cent on the year.

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