Dry bulk shipping was relying on a strong grain season in South America. Shipowners, investors and analysts, in particular, may need to reevaluate their expectations and forecasts.
On March 12, this past week, Brazil’s government crop supply agency (“CONAB”) slashed its forecast for the 2013/14 soybean harvest by 5% to 85.44 million metric tons (“MMT”). CONAB noted that the crop was adversely impacted by unfavorable weather conditions late in the growing season. CONAB also reduced its forecast for the 2013/2014 corn crop from 75.47 MMT to 75.18 MMT.
In addition to lower soybean and corn crop estimates by CONAB, China cancelled an order for South American beans. Reuters reported China has canceled 10 cargoes (up to 600,000 metric tons (“MT.”) of soybean purchases from Brazil and Argentina that were scheduled to ship March through May. It is believed that Chinese buyers are looking to cancel or delay shipment on another 30 cargoes (up to 1.8 MMT) of soybean commitments because of weak demand and poor crush margins.
Furthermore, on the production front, the Rosario Grain Exchange estimated the Argentine soybean crop at 54.7 MMT, down slightly from a previous estimate of 55.0 MMT, but still higher than USDA’s projection of 54.0 MMT.
Finally, China also has canceled some U.S. soybean purchases, but the cancellations are less than expected by the market.
The cancellation and delay of crop shipments will impact the dry bulk shipping market, causing a reassessment of shipping earnings in 2014.