A U.S. grain export terminal near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is loading about 38,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans on a bulk cargo vessel for shipment to Brazil, according to a Southport Agencies shipping lineup seen by Reuters.
The unusual shipment from the United States, the world’s second-largest soybean exporter, to the top supplier of the oilseed comes as Brazil is grappling with rising prices of domestic food staples.
The vessel Discoverer arrived at the Louis Dreyfus Port Allen, Louisiana, terminal along the Mississippi River on Monday morning, according to Refinitiv Eikon vessel data.
The Discoverer is a “handisize” vessel that can hold about half as much as larger panamax vessels, which are used to move 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes at a time to major importers like China.
Louis Dreyfus did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said last week that the country was shopping for imported soybeans and rice.
Brazil last month temporarily suspended import tariffs on corn, soybeans and soy products from outside its Mercosur trading bloc in a bid to rein in inflation.
Several months of record Brazilian soybean exports to China earlier this year depleted the country’s soybean supplies, and significant soy supplies from the next harvest are not due to arrive before January.
Of the roughly 56.3 million tonnes of soybeans China imported from April through September this year, 48.9 million tonnes or 86% came from Brazil.
The 38,000-tonne U.S. soybean export shipment to Brazil represents the largest such transaction since 1997, when the country imported more than 600,000 tonnes of U.S. soy, according to U.S. Census Bureau trade data.
Abiove, the Brazilian oilseeds crusher industry group, said last week American soybean cargos would be used for internal processing in Brazil. Importing larger quantities, however, would require approval of certain genetically modified soy traits that are authorized in the United States but not in Brazil.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago, Editing by Marguerita Choy and Himani Sarkar)