Commodity Ag wheat cargo heralds new era for WA

Grain Central July 9, 2024

A mobile ship-loader is putting 23,000t of wheat into the Eastgate’s holds this week to form the first export cargo for Gnowangerup business Commodity Ag.

A CARGO is loading in Albany this week to herald a new era for grain exporting in Western Australia.

Comprising 23,000 tonnes of wheat bound for Surabaya in Indonesia, both the cargo and the leased mobile ship loader putting grain into the holds have been organised by Alan Richardson and family’s business Commodity Ag.

In its March 2023 application to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for an export licence, Commodity Ag said it planned to export around 50,000t of grain per month from the common-user berth at the Port of Albany.

“This facility not only enhances our capacity to handle traditional crops like wheat, barley and canola but also supports the expansion of new and emerging crops such as faba beans, lentils, and chickpeas that desperately need a bulk export pathway to continue expanding in Western Australia,” Commodity Ag managing director Alan Richardson said in a statement.

The Eastgate on the berth at Albany ahead of its journey to Surabaya with a cargo of wheat grown on Commodity Ag’s farms.

This move by Commodity Ag represents the first grain-exporting facility in WA to open since Bunge’s Bunbury terminal around 10 years ago, and supplements capacity in the Port of Albany from CBH Group’s terminal.

Next step

Commodity Ag is a fifth-generation family farming business based in Gnowangerup in WA’s Great Southern region, and has expanded to include road transport, cattle backgrounding, and fabrication of Duraquip grain trailers.

Cropping 21,300ha across 13 properties, Commodity Ag annually produces around 59,000t in total of wheat, barley, canola, oats, oaten hay, and lupins for domestic and international markets.

All the wheat in the cargo now loading was grown by Commodity Ag, but the business is looking to export grain grown by others to enhance a traceable and reliable supply chain and increase market access for growers in the region and beyond.

“We are excited about the opportunities our new grain loader brings to growers in Western Australia,” Mr Richardson said.

In late 2022, Commodity Ag bought the 20,000t-capacity grain cleaning and storage facility built by Tim Sampson and located 8km north of Albany; it is now the ideal staging point for grain to be delivered by road to the export berth.

Different offering

Commodity Ag sold the cargo FOB to Tasman Agri in conjunction with Indian firm JSW, but is expecting to be a service provider to both growers looking for an alternate pathway to export, and traders looking to accumulate for FOB or C&F sales.

This grain site services the Albany district in WA and is for sale. Photo: CBRE

CBH Group is part of Australia’s largest cooperative, and its terminals in Geraldton, Kwinana, and Esperance, as well as Albany, collectively hold well over 90 percent of WA’s grain-exporting capacity.

Until Commodity Ag’s arrival, Bunge’s Bunbury terminal was the only non-CBH bulk grain loading facility in WA.

While CBH’s Albany berth can load panamaxes with up to 60,000t, the berth Commodity Ag is using is more suited to the smaller handymaxes.

Business for new-crop shipments is yet to be written, but new-crop faba beans are expected to be among Commody Ag’s cargoes once WA’s 2024-25 harvest gets rolling.

In recent years, the deployment of mobile ship-loaders in Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong and Portland have added considerably to Australia’s grain-exporting capacity, and have been particularly valuable for pulse shipments.

A Commodity Ag truck arrives at the Port of Albany with wheat.


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