SOUTH Australia’s major bulk handler Viterra is on track to export 1.8 million tonnes (Mt) of new-crop grain in the opening quarter alone of its new-crop shipping year which started on 1 October.
The shipping program for Viterra looks set to continue at pace at least until June, as the Glencore-owned company plays its role in a national export program out of all mainland Australian states.
“We have strong demand from our system with 25 different buyers that have already purchased new-season grain, many of who are purchasing directly from growers,” Viterra chief operations officer James Murray said.
“This includes 11 exporters with bookings over the season sending barley, wheat, canola and pulses to multiple international destinations,” he said.
“It is very positive to see grain from our state in such strong demand from the export market.”
Viterra operates six of South Australia’s seven grain export terminals, and all but Thevenard are heavily booked into the third quarter of their shipping year.
Its Adelaide Ports, Inner Harbour and Outer Harbour, are in the process of shipping more than 680,000t of new-crop grain in total by the end of January, while Port Lincoln is out-turning more than 600,000t, Port Giles and Wallaroo will jointly shift in excess of 400,000t, and Thevenard will ship around 120,000t.
“Buyers have confidence in sourcing grain through our supply chain because of our flexible and efficient operations paired with our food safety and quality management standards which are the highest of any grain supply chain in Australia.”
Growers have had the option to deliver directly into ports with the local grower delivery line open at Viterra’s terminals for specific commodities based on shipping demand.
“We continue to invest in our port terminal infrastructure which support high volumes of grain being moved and loaded on to vessels quickly and efficiently.”
Viterra’s latest investment in SA ports is a $5M-plus upgrade at Port Giles ahead of this harvest, and a spend of more than $6M at Port Lincoln over the past two years.
Grain last season also moved quickly out of the system albeit headed to the domestic market.
The recovery of many areas from consecutive years of dry conditions has meant the market has returned to a predominantly export-focused market.
“While there will be domestic movements, we are getting back into the swing of sending a significant amount of grain out through our port terminals.”
In its December World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, USDA forecast Australia’s 2020-21 wheat exports at 20Mt and barley exports at 6Mt, up from a drought-affected 9.1Mt of wheat and 3.7Mt of barley last year.
Due to their small domestic markets and large production, Western Australia and SA are typically Australia’s biggest barley exporters, and are also major exporters of wheat.