Moving Grain: Commodities Show Mixed Inspection Trends

Grain barges. Photo: Kansas State University

Grain Commodities Show Mixed Inspection Trends

For the week ending November 22, grain (corn, wheat, and soybeans) inspections totaled 2.53 million metric tons (mmt), up 1 percent from last week and down 24 percent from the 3-year average. Inspections of corn and soybeans rose by 32 and 3 percent from the previous week, respectively, while wheat inspections fell 50 percent.

Over the past 4 weeks, wheat and corn inspections were up 17 and 85 percent, respectively, from the 3-year average, while soybeans were down 48 percent. Pacific Northwest (PNW) inspections were down 21 percent, and wheat inspections down 66 percent. There were no soybeans inspected in the PNW during the week. Corn inspections out of the PNW were up 48 percent from the previous week.

Total Mississippi Gulf inspections rose 16 percent week to week, as there was an increase in shipments to Asia and Europe.

Diesel Fuel Prices Continue Downward Trend

During the week ending November 26, U.S. on-highway diesel fuel prices decreased 2.1 cents per gallon, to $3.261. Over the past 6 weeks, prices have decreased 13.3 cents—reclaiming much of the 18.7 cent increase realized from late August through mid-October. Recent crude oil price data from the Energy Administration show a downward trend since early October, which helps relieve pressure on diesel fuel prices.

TRB Report Poses Key Questions on Transportation Issues

Last week, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) released a pre-published version of Critical Issues in Transportation 2018, which poses questions to explore for issues and opportunities that may arise 10 to 20 years into the future.

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The report notes, “…rankings of U.S. logistics and freight infrastructure systems show the United States lagging behind our trading partners. Freight movement is expected to continue to grow dramatically in the coming decades to serve an expanding population and growing economy. Without a resolution to funding shortfalls for public infrastructure, however, additional freight movements will increasingly contribute to bottlenecks and capacity problems.

“Growing expectations about the rapid delivery of goods ordered online and the need to solve the complexities and costs of urban freight movements, especially the ‘last mile’ problem, are particularly acute topics for the freight sector.”

Snapshots by Sector

Export Sales

For the week ending November 15, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 28.7 mmt, down 18 percent from the same time last year. Net weekly wheat export sales were .331 mmt, down 25 percent from the previous week. Net corn export sales were .877 mmt, down 2 percent from the previous week. Net soybean export sales were .681 mmt, up significantly from the past week.

Rail

U.S. Class I railroads originated 23,601 grain carloads for the week ending November 17; up 10 percent from the previous week, 8 percent from last year, and 2 percent from the 3-year average. Average December shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $150 below tariff, for the week ending November 22, up $63 from last week, and $31 lower than last year.

Average non-shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers were $3 below tariff, down $16 from last week. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers this week last year.

Barge

For the week ending November 24, barge grain movements totaled 917,008 tons, 25 percent higher than the previous week and down 22 percent from the same period last year.

For the week ending November 24, 576 grain barges moved down river, 101 barges more than the previous week. There were 864 grain barges unloaded in New Orleans, 9 percent higher than the previous week.

Ocean

For the week ending November 22, 37 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 6 percent more than the same period last year. Fifty-four vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 10 percent more than the same period last year.

Full report.


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