Aussie rapeseed exporters exploit Canadian hiccups

Australian rapeseed exports are making a strong start to 2013-14 thanks to the logistical hiccups in Canada, the top shipper of the oilseed, whose trade is being curtailed by logistical problems.

While Canada has prioritised canola and wheat among its crop exports after record harvests of both - shipments have still fallen thanks to the inability of its rail and port systems, choked by strong oil volumes and hampered by cold weather, to cope.

Canada's exports of canola, the rapeseed variant, have dropped 19% to 3.2m tonnes so far in 2013-14, starting in August, according to the International Grains Council.

"In Canada, some growers are now finding it almost impossible to sell their seed because the local silos are full and the rail system simply does not have the capacity to get record crops of both wheat and rapeseed to the ports fast enough," traders at a major European commodities house said.

"Some vessels are having to queue in Vancouver for 30 days or more to get loaded."

Australia vs Canada

Strategie Grains said: "Canadian logistical difficulties continue to dominate the rapeseed market, with very low exports in the first part of the campaign."

This squeeze "benefits exports from Australia, whose loadings are currently very high", the Paris-based analysis group added. has heard talk of substantial volumes of Australian rapeseed coming into Europe, one of the world's biggest importers, but has been unable to verify this speculation.

In fact, Strategie Grains also raised its forecast for European Union rapeseed imports in 2013-14, by 300,000 tonnes to 3.3m tonnes, reflecting an increased consumption forecast.

German-based consultancy Oil World has pegged world rapeseed exports in the July-to-December period at 7.5m tonnes, up 1.2m tonnes year on year, as rising exports from the likes of Australia and Ukraine offset the drop in Canadian volumes.

The International Grains Council last week nudged higher by 100,000 tonnes to 2.7m tonnes its forecast for Australian rapeseed exports in 2013-14, albeit representing an 800,000-tonne fall on last season thanks to a smaller harvest.

2014 prospects

More on Canada's canola supply situation will be revealed on Tuesday when Statistics Canada unveils inventory data as of the end of 2013.

The data "should be on high levels, probably above 12m tonnes, against 8.1m tonnes" a year ago, consultancy Agritel said.

Oil World last week raised by 200,000 tonnes to 3.0m tonnes its forecast for Canadian rapeseed inventories as of the close of 2013-14, above the 2.5m tonnes that the US Department of Agriculture is factoring in, if a figure in line with that from Canada's own farm ministry.

As for 2014-15, Strategie Grains forecast a 1m-tonne fall to 67m tonnes in world production, with a particularly sharp drop in Canadian output, which was swollen last year by a record yield.

Canada's farm ministry has forecast a 16.0m-tonne harvest, down 2.0m tonnes year on year.

For the European Union, the top producer, Strategie Grains forecast a 21.4m-tonne harvest, a figure upgraded by 100,000 tonnes from last month, and up 500,000 tonnes year on year.

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