Grain shipments via St. Lawrence Seaway up 38% this season

by Canadian Shipper

OTTAWA, Ont.– Grain shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway have skyrocketed this season as both Prairie and Ontario farmers take advantage of the waterway to meet export demand in Europe, the Middle East and other world markets.

According to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, while combined shipments (U.S. and Canadian) are up 38 per cent, Canadian grain shipments from March 25 to June 30 totaled 2.7 million metric tons, a 50 per cent increase over the same period last year. 

Grain traders are using the Port of Thunder Bay and the Great Lakes-Seaway System to export a backlog of Prairie grain that built up through the winter months. Likewise, Ontario farmers are taking advantage of expanded facilities at the Port of Hamilton to ship canola, corn, soybeans and wheat through the navigation system to mainly international markets, said the Seaway. 

 “Grain shipments through the Port of Hamilton are up 70 per cent this season compared to 2013. The Port is critical infrastructure in Ontario’s agricultural economy. The storage capacity at Hamilton terminals helps Ontario farmers get their product to market efficiently,” said Bruce Wood, President & CEO of Hamilton Port Authority.

The Port of Thunder Bay had its busiest June in 17 years as both domestic and ocean carriers loaded over 965,000 metric tons of grain during the month. Grain shipments at the Port of Hamilton have also soared, with more than 380,000 metric tons transiting the port since the opening of the season.

““The grain surge provided Thunder Bay with its busiest June in 17 years. We are optimistic grain shipments will remain strong through the summer as the record harvest from 2013 continues to move to market,” said Tim Heney, President and CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

The Canadian grain rush has helped shipping rebound considerably after a crippling start to the season due to ice coverage. However, total year-to-date cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway were 11.1 million metric tons, down 7 per cent compared to 2013 due to decreases in iron ore and coal traffic.

“Both domestic and international vessels are responding to an incredible Canadian grain rush through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. The navigation system is playing a critical role in helping both Prairie and Ontario farmers meet export demand from Europe and other world markets. We anticipate that this activity will continue throughout the summer,” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation 

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