Containerized shipment of grains pushed in shift from bulk cargo
Shipments of imported grains, such as wheat, rice and corn, are now shifting into containerized cargoes from the previous break bulk cargo handling for cost efficiency and convenience in light of increased importation of grains into the country.
RJ Angeles, president and CEO of RomarCon International, the country’s leading grains brokerage in the country, cited the cost efficiency of containerized cargo handling.
“Shrinkage and pilferage are more controlled in containerized shipping,” said Angeles. Romarcom is the leading grains brokerage based for both bulk and containers serving primarily raw material needs for flour and feed mills all over the Philippines.
“When commodities from Asia go west, containerization helps save time and money, as the containers are then filled with grain and sent back to Asia. In this sense, containers are multipurpose holders of all kinds of goods as they move from port to port,” said Angeles.
Because of this two-way system, container shipping is cheaper. Many food importers from Asia have begun switching to containerization since they can import smaller amounts which are cheaper per ton.
“We encourage our clients to consider bringing grain in containers to save on costs. There have been a growing number of port facilities in Visayas and Mindanao which allow us to receive grains without the need to use barges and break bulk facilities,” Angeles said.
On average, a standard 20-foot container can hold approximately 23-24 tons of corn. This is ideal for smaller volume of grains importation.
“Using containers also allow timely receipt of goods as consignees can time the arrival of the goods by splitting purchasing lots in manageable sizes that can be received by their warehouses,” Angeles added.
Containers are also more elastic and adaptable to the fluctuating supply of grain. The system of bulk handling is rigid, and cannot adapt to especially good harvests. In cases such as this, containers can be used to help ship excess, without affecting the existing bulk system.
UNAHCO, Inc., the animal healthcare subsidiary of UNILAB, has been using container shipping since 2014.
“There is a faster flow of goods from the source to the destination,” UNAHCO CFO Rommel Samson said, adding that it reduces the cost of following the traditional logistics in supply chain.
Samson shared that there are downsides to breakbulk cargo handling. “You cannot easily unload the commodities if it is raining because there will be a higher degree of demurrage. Unloading commodities is needed so as not to incur storage charges.”
For instance, a shipment of grains arrives at the port in Manila, and needs to get to ro-ro port in Bicol to be delivered somewhere in Visayas, the container carrying the grain can easily be put on a truck heading there.
This method is considered fairly new in the shipping industry, having only begun in 1956. Since the shape and dimensions of containers have been standardized since 1961, containerization has been easily accepted for importation and exportation, so it is widely used for non-bulk cargo worldwide.
“It has become easier to unload from the terminal and deliver to the warehouse, likewise, being able to order in batches unlike in break bulk cargo, thus improving cash flow,” Samson added.
Containerized cargo handling services are being provided by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI). Aside from Manila, ICTSI operates containerized cargo handling services in Subic through the Subic Bay International Terminal Corporation (SBITC) and in Cagayan de Oro through the Mindanao Container Terminal (MCT) respectively.
Importation of grains into the country has also increased. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts the Philippines will import more wheat and other grains to help keep inflation down through 2019.
Source: Manila Bulletin