World hungry for Canadian grain amid pandemic, with shipments abroad rising

By | March 31, 2020

Canadian grain is in high demand as shippers try to feed a growing appetite from mills and governments seeking to shore up staple reserves amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce says grain shipments at the Port of Thunder Bay in Ontario doubled year over year in March, with vessels loading 200,000 tonnes last week and higher volumes expected to continue.

Carsten Bredin, who runs merchandising at Richardson International Ltd. — Canada’s largest grain handler — says demand for wheat and durum at flour mills and pasta plants around the world is on the rise as customers stock up on staples, partly in preparation for extended lockdowns triggered by steps taken to contain the novel coronavirus.

Canadian National Railway Co. chief executive JJ Ruest said last week that demand for grain has been particularly strong over the past month.

He said shipments of the bulk product will likely stay “solid” at least through May, despite sagging container traffic and potential layoffs at the railway as global supply chains wobble.

Wade Sobkowich, who heads the Western Grain Elevator Association, says strong demand in Europe and Africa is a welcome follow to a tough year that saw rail blockades, labour action and a late harvest trip up shipments of grain and other goods.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2020.

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