By MICHAEL POLLITT
, Agricultural editor
Saturday, December 8, 2012
A cargo of wheat was loaded in record time and three days ahead of target at Great Yarmouth’s new port – to the delight of agricultural merchants Gleadell.
The 22,000 tonne shipment for Italy was loaded in record time on the MV Maraki, said the port authority’s chief executive, Jamie Freighter.
He said that the modifications to the outer harbour, which involved reducing the width of the mouth by 50m from 200m, had clearly helped.
“It started on Tuesday and finished on Friday evening as we were able to load 440 tonnes an hour,” he added.
“It is encouraging that the outer harbour is servicing its purposes and allowing the largest grain vessels to come into the harbour and work very productively.
“We had rough weather last week with strong winds but the ship never stopped loading.”
Reducing the gap of the harbour mouth to 150m has kept the swell down and enabled loading to continue when it would have halted operations.
Jonathan Lane, trading manager of Gleadell, said: “Yarmouth has been a real success story this year. We have been able to ship a significant volume of wheat – more than 100,000 tonnes so far this season and could reach 120,000 tonnes by the end of the year.
“The majority of the wheat was low bushel, sub-standard wheat which could not be utilised in the domestic market. We’ve been able to provide our farmer-customers with an outlet for wheat when no other business has been able to do so.
“The port of Yarmouth has yet again, as in previous years, been a success story for the farmers of Norfolk. The rate at which we were able to load that ship was very welcome surprise.
“I didn’t think that we’d finish until Monday, so to finish on Friday night was a great success.”
The previous biggest vessel from Yarmouth loaded 18,665 tonnes for Portugal in September.
The ability to store out of its own store at quayside was a further bonus because it reduced potential turnaround times for hauliers as well.
With quality problems caused by a poor harvest, the export market has been a good outlet, said Gleadell Agriculture’s managing director David Sheppard.
“The UK harvest of 2012 resulted in a low yielding and extremely poor quality wheat crop.
“Whilst domestic compounders consumers have been able to deal with wheat down to 65kg/hl, there is still a significant amount of wheat that tests below that level.
“With milling/biscuit wheat imports expected to reach well in excess of two million tonnes finding a market for between 500,000 and one million tonnes of low quality feed wheat probably represents the most significant challenge for the second half of this marketing year.”