Aug 21, 2014

Soy Exports from Brazil increase 6 mt First Seven Months of 2014

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

During the first seven months of 2014, Brazil has exported 6 million tons of soybeans more than during the same period in 2013. From January through July of this year there were 37.8 million tons of soybeans exported out of Brazil compared to 31.7 million tons during the first seven months of 2013.

According to a Working Group for Grain Movement established by the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, the record export pace is being attributed to increased capacity, improved operating procedures, improved efficiency, and better scheduling at the nation's ports.

The top four Brazilian ports for soybean exports during the first seven months of 2014 are the ports of: Santos in the state of Sao Paulo (12.6 million tons), Paranagua in the state of Parana (6.8 million tons), Rio Grande in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (5.9 million tons), and Sao Francisco do Sul in the state of Santa Catarina (4.2 million tons).

At the Port of Santos they instituted a new scheduling system for the arrival of trucks so that only trucks called to the port were allowed to be unloaded. The new system eliminated long lines of trucks congesting local streets and it allowed for a more efficient movement of trucks within the port and more rapid unloading of the trucks.

At the Port of Paranagua the biggest improvement was the establishment of an "express line" for vessels that would load from a maximum of only three different warehouses. In the past, any vessel at one of the three public berths could load grain from any of nine different warehouses supplying grain to the shiploaders. Switching the conveyor systems from one warehouse to another could take up to four hours thus greatly delaying the loading of the vessel. The new "express line" prohibited loading from any more than three warehouses and as a result, some vessels reduced their loading times by 36 hours.

When vessels arrived at the Port of Paranagua earlier this year they had to show contracts listing the number of warehouses from which they would load grain before they were put in the lineup for the "express line". Before the current export season started, port officials had expressed hope that the "express line" alone would increase the loading capacity of the port by 10% and their optimism seems to have been justified.

The record export pace was also helped by improvements at other ports in Brazil that either improved their operating procedures or their loading capacity. At the Port of Rio Grande in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, an adoption of a set of best practices improved their loading efficiency. The Madeira Port in northeastern Brazil increased their capacity over the past year from 1.8 million tons to 3.7 million tons. Additionally, there were increased exports from Brazil's northern ports with the initiation of barging operations between the city of Miritituba located on a tributary of the Amazon River and the Port of Vila do Conde near the city of Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River.

The Minister of Agriculture also deployed 42 additional grain inspectors to facilitate the inspections of cargos at strategic ports in Brazil. Shipping companies and inspectors alike have long complained that there were not enough inspectors to handle the increased volume of grain exports.

The Working Group for Grain Movement is actively evaluating the bottlenecks in the current port system with the hope of remedying them before the new soybean export season begins next January. They have also established a priority of making recommendations for a more rapid expansion of the port capacities across the "Northern Arc" of Brazil thus better utilizing the Amazon River system for the movement of grain.