STAT Communications Ag Market News

Grains Lead Decline In Railcar Loadings

OTTAWA - Jun 21/22 - SNS -- Tye volume of raul traffic in Canada declined 1.2% from last year to 31.3 million metric tons (MT), with grain shipments sinking 4.6% on the year to 24 million MT, according to Statistics Canada.

Grain shipments have been declining since early 2021 because of a depletion of stocks after a record crop year in 2020, followed by a lower harvest caused by drought conditions in summer 2021. Indeed, wheat loadings have fallen year over year for 12 straight months, slumping by 49.6% to 1,394,000 MT in April, after a similar decline in March (-57.7%).

Likewise, other cereal grains posted a year-over-year decline for a seventh consecutive month, down 61.0% (-544 000 MT) in April, following large drops in March (-58.6%) and February (-53.1%). Loadings of canola fell for the 14th consecutive month, dropping a further 57.5% (-522 000 MT) in April, compared with the same month in 2021.

In addition, loadings of fresh, chilled or dried vegetables dropped 45.6% (-203 000 MT) compared with April 2021, their 13th month of year-over-year decline.

Finally, loadings of lumber, which dipped 16.6% (-152 000 MT) year over year in April, posted their 10th straight month of such declines.

Energy Movement Holds Strong

Partly offsetting the above-noted declines were increases in other commodities, in particular certain energy commodities, reflecting a rise in fuel consumption and industrial production. Loadings of coal led the way, rising sharply by 38.4% (+1 025 000 MT) from April 2021, the third consecutive month of year-over-year increases.

Loadings of iron ores and concentrates―feedstock for the production of steel—were up year over year in April by 7.9% (+359 000 MT), following growth of 12.6% in March. Also, loadings of primary or semi-finished iron and steel rose year over year for the 14th time in 15 months. April's advanced manufacturing sales point to higher sales in the primary metal industries.

Other refined petroleum and coal products (e.g., propane, butane) were up 79.6% (+297 000 MT) in April, compared with the same month a year earlier, the third month of sharp growth. As well, the easing of travel restrictions helped boost loadings of gasoline and aviation turbine fuel, which grew year over year for the 13th consecutive month, up 74.5% (+90 000 MT) in April.

Finally, loadings of sulphur also posted a year-over-year increase for a third consecutive month, rising 26.4% (+78 000 MT) from April 2021, the largest increase in three months.

Intermodal Picks Up

In April 2022, intermodal shipments—mainly containers—originating in Canada increased for the first time after seven consecutive months of year-over-year declines. Total tonnage was up 3.5% to 3.3 million MT from the same month a year earlier.

Container volume reached its highest tonnage ever for April, benefiting from stronger demand, as Canada's trade in consumer goods was up sharply year over year for both exports and imports, and global events started to free up the supply of containers.

Freight loadings arriving from the United States reached another record level in April, rising by 20.2% year over year to 4.1 million MT. This was the 13th consecutive month of year-over-year growth and the highest volume ever recorded for the month of April.

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