The Canadian Grain Commission released its February Exports of Canadian Grain and Wheat Flour report to show 3.365 million metric tons of grain moved through licensed facilities during the month. This is the lowest volume shipped in any month this crop year, down 25.1% from the previous month and 35.5% below the four-month average. At the same time, this volume is 20.7% higher than the same month in 2020.
Of the 16 crops listed, the volume shipped in February fell for 12 crops. Of the 1.130 mmt drop seen month over month, 45% of this drop was seen in wheat exports (excluding durum) while 21.6% of this drop was reported for canola.
What is interesting is the lesser role played by China in February as a destination for Canadian grain. The 101,000 mt of wheat shipped to China in February was the lowest volume shipped to this country in 16 months. China has been the No. 1 destination for Canadian wheat in the past three shipping months, while in four of the six months reported this crop year according to CGC data.
As well, February was the first time reported in three months that China was not the No. 1 destination for Canadian canola. The 126,100 mt shipped to China was the smallest monthly volume shipped to this destination in five months.
While this data may be a signal for concern, the AG Transport Coalition's Weekly Performance Update for week 33 bears watching. As seen on the attached chart, the hopper car demand seen from Canada's two largest railways is reported to grow for a second week to 9,856 hopper cars (blue line), the highest number reported in 13 weeks or since week 20.
In addition, the number of cars ordered for week 34 are reported lower for CN Rail while expected to grow the week after. The number of cars ordered by CP Rail are expected to grow in week 34 and again in week 35.
The brown line represents the weekly demand for hopper cars for the week 34 to week 52 period in 2019-20 as a reference. Over this period, weekly demand averaged 9,905 cars.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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