MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA — Emerald Grain’s export terminal at the Port of Melbourne hosted the bulk carrier Nord Colorado as it loaded 50,000 tonnes of feed barley before departing for China.

It’s the maiden voyage for the ship and its connections to Sumitomo Corporation are strong: Sumitomo Corporation is a global trading and business investment company; Oshima Shipbuilding Co Ltd in Japan, where the ship was built, is partly owned by Sumitomo Corporation; Emerald Grain is wholly owned by Sumitomo Corporation.

David Johnson, chief executive officer of Emerald Grain, said the links through to so many parts of Sumitomo Corporation’s international business made this shipload of grain very special.

“A brand new bulk carrier is great to see and loading a vessel for its maiden voyage is always significant, however this ship really illustrates what major business diversity means on the international stage,” Johnson said. “For Emerald Grain this ship loaded 50,000 tonnes of barley, which is our tenth cargo of this size for China in the past 12 months.

“China has been the biggest buyer of feed barley from Australia for 18 months now and the demand has driven higher prices for Australian growers. The driver for all this is ultimately protein, growing world demand for which means feeding more grains into animal production — poultry and pigs particularly in China although we also see demand to feed dairy and beef cattle.

“The movement of feed grains around the world in ships like Nord Colorado is a very clear trade pattern — ships of a size that can access many ports and economically transport large cargoes from production regions to where the grain is needed.”

The Nord Colorado is a 60,000 tonne-deadweight ‘ultramax’ vessel capable of loading up to 57,000 tonnes of cargo. At the upper end of what the shipping industry groups as ‘handymax’ vessels, Nord Colorado is 199.98m long, 32.26m wide, has a draft of 12.92m and is owned by Danish shipping company, Norden.

Oshima launched its first ship in 1973 and specializes in building bulk carriers. Each takes around eight months to build and Oshima completes around 40 vessels per year.