Baltimore closure to have limited effects on organic ag

  • Market: Agriculture
  • 28/03/24

The indefinite closure of the Port of Baltimore after a bridge collapse Tuesday morning will likely have a limited short-term impact on organic agriculture imports due to seasonal trends and the location of key import infrastructure.

While Baltimore is the US' largest organic ag import port by volume, April is historically the month with the smallest volume of organic imports into the port. About 5,000 metric tonnes (t) of organic corn, soybean, sunflower, and canola products combined come through Baltimore in April on average for the past three years, according to Argus data. May organic agricultural imports through Baltimore average about 17,000 t, but the largest volumes are not expected until the third and fourth quarters, according to Argus organic market research.

Organic whole soybeans and soybean meal are the main commodities imported to Baltimore in April which will likely be curtailed. This includes container shipments of organic soybeans and soybean meal from African countries and India, and organic sunflower products from Argentina.

Bulk organic shipments to Baltimore are less likely to be curtailed by the port closure since most of those come through facilities at Sparrows Point, which is outside the port and still accessible, according to market participants. In 2023, 92pc of the volume of organic agriculture corn, soybean, sunflower, and canola products imported to Baltimore in April and May was via bulk shipments.

On average, 90,000 t of organic corn and 110,000 t of organic soybean products enter the US through Baltimore annually. This accounts for roughly 32pc of total organic corn and 21pc of total organic soybean product imports to the US.

Total impact of the port closure on the organic agriculture market is still uncertain, but for now shippers are diverting to other ports in light of the closure.

US organic imports into Baltimore (2021-2023 average) 1,000 T

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