WASHINGTON, DC, US — The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System has moved 934,000 tonnes of US grain to countries throughout the 2022 shipping season, a 24.67% increase year over year, according to the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership, which announced its October results on Nov. 14.

It is estimated that US Great Lakes ports traded with at least 18 countries during October, up from 15 in September. The report indicates that the Seaway System remains a reliable supply chain for essential commodities like steel and agricultural products.

“Agricultural commodities farmed in the Great Lakes states are some of the highest quality in the world,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, recently appointed administrator of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. “The Seaway System has long served as an important shipping corridor for exporting grain given global high demand, and that trend has well continued thus far in 2022.” 

On Lake Erie through October 2022, the Port of Toledo’s tonnage exceeded 9.5 million tonnes for the season, a 5.5% increase over the same period in 2021.  

“Grain, iron ore, coal, and general cargo are all exceeding last year’s pace,” said Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.  “It’s great to see a parade of lakers and ocean vessels sailing up the Maumee River through downtown Toledo this time of year to load grain at The Andersons and ADM. We also have a lot of activity at the mouth of the river where coal, ore, aluminum, steel, and bulk products are handled at CSX and Midwest Terminals.”  

The Port of Toledo has 13 active marine terminals and a full-service shipyard along a stretch of the Maumee River that spans seven nautical miles from the I-75 bridge to Maumee Bay at the western basin of Lake Erie.

During October, the US Great Lakes ports that received steel shipments included Cleveland, Ohio, US; Detroit, Michigan, US; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US; Chicago, Illinois, US; and Burns Harbor, Indiana, US.

 “The steel that Great Lakes ports are moving continues to uplift the US manufacturing sector and provide quality jobs in the industry,” Tindall-Schlicht said.

In addition to being a leading destination on the Great Lakes for steel shipments, the Port of Cleveland has also seen an uptick in inbound tin plate and container shipments. Tin plate is commonly used in food and beverage cans. 

For Lake Superior, more than 3.1 million short tons of maritime cargo transited the Port of Duluth-Superior in October 2022, lifting season-to-date tonnage past 23.4 million 

Chicago’s Illinois International Port District (IIPD) on Lake Michigan was another leading destination for steel shipments during October.

The Great Lakes-Seaway System serves an economic region that includes eight US states and two Canadian provinces. More than 160 million tonnes of commercial cargo are transported on the waterway each year for the region’s manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and energy sectors.