Study finds E.U. grain storage has improved but critical issues remain

by Holly Demaree-Saddler
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Total capacity for cereals, oilseed complex and protein crops grew by 20% between 2005-15.
Photo courtesy of iStock.
 
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM – The storage capacity for cereals, oilseed complex and protein crops in the E.U. has risen to 359 million tonnes since 2005, but there are still bottlenecks in the system, mainly related to capacity issues, that could impact the sector as a whole. These are the main findings of a study on grain storage in the European Union, commissioned by the European Commission’s agriculture and rural development department.

Total E.U. storage capacity for cereals, oilseed complex and protein crops grew by 20% between 2005 and 2015, according to the study, compared to an 11% increase in production over the same period. This has led to improved storage management across the E.U., with all 28 member states having increased their storage capacity over the 10-year period. There is still a risk of a shortage of storage capacity in some member states, where additional investment is needed, however.

The study identified four main transport corridors for cereals, oilseed complex and protein crops in Europe: Baltic-Adriatic, North-Sea Baltic, Rhine-Alpine and Rhine-Danube. In addition it found that most long-distance tonnage is covered by inland waterways and railways, while short-distances are mainly covered by truck transportation.

However, for all four transport corridors and all three transportation modes, bottlenecks emerged. For example, capacity issues came up on the German and Austrian transportation network, in particular with cross-border railway connections.

“With around 4 million tonnes of grains worth over €1 billion moving in the E.U. every week, a well-functioning storage and logistic system is of great importance to ensure that the demands of the E.U. market are met at a competitive price,” the European Commission said. “Bottlenecks can lead to supply shortfalls and increased price volatility.”

The study provides an overview and mapping of the storage and logistic situation for cereals, oilseed complex and protein crops in the E.U. It maps storage facilities for all member states and at all levels of the supply chain. It also shows the evolution of storage capacities and logistical infrastructure over the last 10 years. Finally, it provides recommendations to address these bottlenecks and looks at opportunities for future investment.

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