OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA — U.S. grain shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway topped 1 million tonnes between March 29 and Aug. 1, up 31% from the same period a year ago, according to the Chamber of Marine Commerce. The Chamber said most of the U.S. exports originated from the Port of Toledo and were carryover from the 2017 grain season.

The increase in grain shipments helped boost overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway to 21.4 million tonnes for the season, up 4% from the same period a year ago.

“Total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway are now ahead of last year’s very strong shipping season,” said Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “We anticipate this momentum to continue into fall as the new harvests head to market and other commodities benefit from the strength of the American economy.” 

The Chamber said higher demand for soybeans contributed to an 80% increase in grain shipments to the Port of Toledo in 2018 over 2017. Additionally, increased volumes are moving through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway as an alternative to the U.S. Gulf, where grain export facilities are reaching capacity, the Chamber noted.

 “With a steady stream of inbound ocean-going traffic, there is significant capacity for backhaul opportunities of grain through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System this year,” said Joe Cappel, vice-president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Shippers are taking advantage of our inland waterway system to access global markets with inbound and outbound cargo and, as a result, our saltwater traffic has doubled this year mainly due to outbound grain shipments.”