THE FIFTH panamax cargo of Canadian wheat bound for Port Kembla has today departed the berth in Vancouver to mark the latest but possibly not the last shipment of high-protein grain coming into New South Wales to supplement the state’s drought-hit stocks.
On board the MV Port Osaka, the wheat is destined for use at Shoalhaven Starches, the Manildra Group’s biggest Australian plant.
It follows a succession of vessel arrivals which started in mid-June with the MV African Pheasant, followed by the MV Jacob Oldendorff and MV Port Kyushu.
The fourth vessel, MV Ilissos, is already in Australian waters, and is scheduled to berth at Port Kembla next week.
Each cargo has been imported under a Federal Department of Agriculture permit, and has brought, or will bring, around 55,000 tonnes of Canadian wheat into a sealed delivery system which is receiving grain and taking it from port to plant by rail.
In a statement issued in May, Manildra Group managing director John Honan said the company needed to import wheat to ensure it could continue to produce value-added exports, including gluten and starch, at its Shoalhaven facility.
The Department of Agriculture said that, as of 12 August, it had received 14 applications to import bulk grain from the United States and Canada, and that the applications covered canola, wheat, corn, and sorghum.
“Five permits have been issued for imports of bulk wheat from Canada,” the department has stated on its website.
“The other applications are in varying stages of assessment.”
Long wait for new-crop
Northern and parts of central NSW are now in their third consecutive drought-affected season.
This means large volumes of durum and high-protein wheat will not be available straight off the header in October, as they normally are.
Sources have said Manildra was therefore likely to seek further import permits to cover its requirements prior to new-crop wheat from the south-west slopes and plains of NSW becoming available in November.
Zero durum applications
Market talk in recent weeks has suggested durum may need to be imported to cover domestic requirements for semolina millers in the lead-up to new-crop availability.
This now seems unlikely.
“There is no application for any durum wheat classes from Canada,” a department spokesperson said.
This would indicate domestic semolina millers have sufficient coverage to get them through to November or December, when new-crop from southern NSW will become available.
Manildra Group, which mills wheat and durum in NSW as well as producing ethanol, gluten and starch, was contacted for comment.
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