U.S. ports clearing backlogs, China port issues remain

An ag economist says China’s import delays are far from over but product movement out of U.S. ports is improving.

The University of Missouri’s Ben Brown said rising COVID cases and lockdowns in China are continuing to cause shipping delays. He tells Brownfield recent strong case numbers in Beijing and Shanghai will likely drag the backlog out.

“They’re not able to get people to the ports to offload or reload ships,” he said. “And that’s just causing a pause in the system.”

Brown says 565 million bushels of corn are waiting to be shipped to China, which is about a third of pending U.S. sales. He tells Brownfield while corn doesn’t necessarily ship by container, port backlogs are causing challenges offloading the shipments.

“If you’ve got a container full of perishable produce, you’re going to pull people off of the corn ships to offload those containers,” he said.

But Brown said U.S. port challenges are clearing up with better crate storage infrastructure.

“Moving them out of a port to maybe a field 50 miles away – 60 miles away, something like that,” Brown said. “And holding them there.”

He said recent increases to the U.S. transportation labor pool has also helped.

Brown made his comments during Brownfield’s recent Weekly Commodity Market Update.

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