Brazil's soybean exports have started slowly this season.
Shipments in March totaled 5.59 million metric tons (mmt), which is down from the 6.23 mmt sent during the same month.
The figures reflect less frantic demand from China at the start of the year, which has been met in larger part than usual by the U.S., and delays to the Brazilian harvest as a result of late planting.
Logistical problems caused by the truckers strike also slowed shipments in the first quarter and prompted more customers to seek out U.S. soy.
Brazil has exported just 6.55 mmt of soybeans so far in 2015, down from 9.05 mmt in the first quarter of 2014.
Brazil is set to produce a bumper crop of between 91 mmt and 96 mmt, up 6% to 12% on last year. Shipments are expected to reach 48 mmt in 2015, over 5% higher than last year, according to Abiove, the Brazilian Soy Industry Association.
With Brazil's harvest 69% complete as of Friday and fieldwork basically complete in Mato Grosso, the No. 1 producing state, shipments will pick up further in April and May, typically the busiest export months.
Port operations appear to be running smoothly, with only modest waiting times registered at Paranagua and Santos.
The depreciation of the Brazilian real has stimulated local grain business over the last few weeks and should bolster shipments from next month onward. The real has fallen approximately 30% against the dollar since September.
Corn exports totaled 1.78 mmt in February and March, the first two months of the marketing year, up from 1.64 mmt in the same period last year. Brazil's Ag Ministry pegs shipments at 20.5 mmt in 2015-16.
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