Canada Markets

Weekly Pacific Terminal Unloads

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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The blue line represents the weekly volume of all grains unloaded at Pacific terminals for the current crop year, while the brown line represents weekly volumes unloaded in 2016/17. Weekly volumes have trailed the previous crop year's volumes in 17 of the 28 weeks this crop year. (DTN graphic by Cliff Jamieson)

The Ag Transport Coalition's Weekly Performance Update for week 28 points to the poorest weekly performance seen this crop year or since August 1, with 49% of the empty hoppers in demand for loading in the country spotted during the week. CN's performance fell for a fifth straight week to spot only 34% of the cars wanted, while CP spotted 69% of the cars in demand, which tied for its poorest performance seen this crop year.

The Grain Growers of Canada tweeted today that "having a 50/50 chance .. of an ordered car showing up is unacceptable." For many in the west looking for west-bound movement, the odds may be even poorer depending on location. With 83% of the overall car demand slated for West Coast movement, 57% of the total Vancouver demand was met in week 28 while only 27% of the Prince Rupert demand for hoppers was met by CN Rail.

The attached graphic shows how recent car spot data has translated into volumes unloaded at Pacific terminals this crop year as compared to the previous crop year. Weekly volumes unloaded have fallen below volumes unloaded last crop year in 17 of the 28 weeks this crop year, while the largest difference is seen in the most recent week 28 data with the volume unloaded being 176,000 metric tons less than the same week last crop year.

This crop year, 14.236 million metric tons have been unloaded (all grains) at Pacific terminals in the first 28 weeks of the crop year, which is 605,600 mt below the same period last crop year but is 9.6% or 1.2 mmt higher than the five-year average as of this week. Over the past five years, an average of 51.9% of total crop year unloads have been realized as of week 28, which would project to total crop year West Coast receipts of 27.4 mmt which would continue to trail the 27.8 mmt unloaded in the 2016/17 crop year.

The current trend in unloads may not support such an outcome, with volumes unloaded on the West Coast falling four straight weeks from a volume of 592,300 mt in week 24 to 364,400 mt in week 28. A disappointing car spot in the country in week 28 could extend this unfavorable trend with the month of March historically receiving the most snowfall, which could add further delays in movement through the mountains.

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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

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