DULUTH, MINNESOTA, U.S. — The Port of Duluth-Superior grain tonnage reached 1.5 million tons in the 2019 shipping season, a jump of 18% compared to the previous season.
The Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.-based port had its third highest shipping season since 2015 with cargo volume exceeding 33.5 million tons.
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority attributes the grain shipping increase to a January grain shipment of 18,015 tons of spring wheat on Jan. 2, 2020. Grain shipments from the Port of Duluth-Superior typically conclude in December.
Four of the port’s six cargo categories increased season-over-season tonnage gains.
General cargo, comprised of project cargoes, breakbulk and heavy-lift industrial pieces, led the way with a tonnage increase. Wind energy cargo arrivals paced the surge, with Duluth Cargo Connect with a single season record 306,000 freight tons of wind energy cargo to the Clure Public Marine Terminal in 2019.
Other bulk cargo, a category led by inbound salt in 2019, also posted an increase, climbing 35%.
“Despite some headwinds, it was a solid tonnage season for the Port of Duluth-Superior, and record breaking for wind energy cargo,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “Looking ahead, we have reason for optimism in 2020, with the prospect of greater international trade certainty and more project cargo scheduled to arrive. The outlook is mostly upbeat.”
According to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the St. Lawrence Seaway as a whole, one year removed from its best season in more than a decade, international shipping volume through the Seaway declined 6.4% in 2019. Contributing factors included international trade conflicts, crop-hindering weather and challenging navigational conditions due to high water levels.
Approximately 800 vessels and 35 million tons of cargo move through the Port of Duluth-Superior each year. It supports 8,000 jobs and contributes $1.4 billion in business revenue to the regional economy.