Port of Riga significantly increased handling of grain and timber in 1Q’2020
In the first quarter of this year, 583.8 thousand tons of grain and grain products were shipped from the Freeport of Riga, which is by 65.1% more than in the first quarter of 2019, and this is the largest increase in turnover among all types of cargo transshipped at the port. Almost half (271.1 thousand tons) of the total volume was exported by the ter-minals of the Port of Riga in March - at a time, when the Covid-19 epidemic broke out all over the world, moreover, all this volume is wheat grown in Latvia, the port says in a press release.
In the first three months, ships with grain cargo have left Riga for ports of 13 different world countries. Final destination for half of all grain shipments was Nigeria, but grain was also shipped to Turkey, South Africa, Sudan, Lebanon, Egypt and ports in European countries.
In terms of volume, the largest type of transshipped cargo in the first quarter of this year at the port of Riga was timber cargo, which accounted for almost a quarter (24%) of the port's cargo portfolio, and is almost entirely locally sourced export product. In the first three months, 1.5 million tons of various timber products were shipped from the port, which exceeds the indica-tors of the previous year (+ 0.9%). This year, the volume of pellets (+ 9.4%), wood chips (+ 30.4%) and sawn timber (+ 90.7%) shipped from the port has significantly increased. At the same time, due to a decrease of demand, exports of roundwood decreased by 27.9%. Ships have delivered timber cargo from Riga to ports of 14 different countries; most of the cargo has been delivered to Great Britain (37% of the total amount), Sweden and Denmark, which are traditionally the largest Latvian timber export markets.
“The record-high volume of grain products transshipped in March was 100% grain grown in Latvia. We attribute the high turnover in March to the high demand and good prices in the grain market. The sellers tried to take advantage of the good market conditions and sell grain stocks, which in turn is reflected in grain export volumes and terminal transshipment rates. At the same time, we have already started preparing for the next season, hoping that after a mild winter, Latvia will have a good grain harvest again,” emphasizes Valerijs Fjodorovs, Commer-cial Director of SIA “Alpha osta”, the largest grain product terminal in the Port of Riga, which daily handless products of Latvian producers as well as transit cargo from Lithuania and Russia.
Grain transshipped at the “Port Milgravis” terminal in Riga are also almost entirely produced by local Latvian producers. “As long as Latvian farmers grow grain, the amount of grain trans-shipped at the terminals of the Port of Riga will remain at a high level. The total increase in grain cargo turnover is also related to the investments into the development of the port termi-nal infrastructure, which facilitates faster and more efficient ship service, cargo handling and increase of cargo storage capacity,” explains Aleksandrs Bovtrukevichs, the CEO of the SIA “Port Milgravis”, the second largest grain product terminal at the Port of Riga.
“In the recent years, we have built six new grain warehouses, we are planning the construction of three more warehouses, and it is also planned to reconstruct another berth with the aim to increase grain handling capacity in the future,” adds A.Bovtrukevichs.
According to the experts the increased demand for grain and high prices might be attributed to the outcome of the Covid-19 crisis, - grain-importing countries, which are under-producing grain, are starting to buy grain and build up stocks, possibly for fear of imminent grain export restrictions.
A total of 272 vessels have called the Port of Riga in March, and 2.35 million tons of various cargo were handled, in compliance with the strict security measures to protect port employees from the risks of infection. Thus March might be considered to be the most successful month for cargo transshipment at the Port of Riga.
Cargo flows are transported both by sea and by road, i.e. by trucks and rail wagons - 45 100 road transport units and 14 400 railway wagons have been used for reception and delivery of cargo at the Port of Riga in March.