The hugely significant first shipment of wheat to depart from Peel Ports London Medway on the Thames estuary was loaded on Friday morning (3 June) – opening exciting new export market opportunities for farmers in Kent and Sussex.
Wheat from over 30 farms in the area has been sourced by Glencore Grain to fill the 4,400 tonne, Arklow Falcon, at the new loading facilities in Sheerness, operated by Peel Ports. Loading took place on Friday (3 June), with the ship bound for Ireland.
Glencore Grain UK Managing Director, James Maw, said: “Creating a new grain export facility at Sheerness is an outstanding opportunity for farmers of Kent, Sussex and the south east. Exporting direct from Peel Ports London Medway at Sheerness opens a route for rapid access to the important export markets of Europe and North Africa.
“Kent and Sussex are relatively isolated from the main grain supply regions of the eastern counties, which makes a local export facility even more important,” he added. The south east region produces an estimated two million tonnes of wheat a year, along with 240,000 tonnes of barley.
Paul Barker, Port Director at Peel Ports London Medway, said “We are delighted to welcome the first ever grain vessel to Sheerness. We have been able to handle and store the grain thanks to our partnership with Glencore, which means we are able to invest in the facilities it needs in order to be able to reach its overseas markets.
“Our ability to handle multiple commodities from the same port is supported by that commitment and understanding from our customers. Thanks to such partnerships, we are able to offer them the flexibility they need from a port in order to utilise the most suitable routes to markets for their cargoes.”
In order to store the grain, Peel Ports’ team converted a warehouse previously used for paper storage. In three days it was cleaned and sanitised to be ready for the first intake on Thursday 26 May, and currently stores 2000 tonnes of grain.
This first export of wheat represents the cropping from around 1400 acres (550 hectares) sourced primarily from farms in Kent and East Sussex, but establishes a highly important route for further shipments from growers across the south east.
Mr Maw highlighted that exporting Kent grain from Sheerness is more efficient and cost effective.
The new route through the port now means Glencore Grain has facility to export grain quickly and efficiently from ports all around the UK – ensuring rapid supply to meet customers’ demands and efficient movement from farms.
The UK is set to export approaching three million tonnes of wheat from the 2015/16 season – one of the biggest totals in history, despite challenging world trade conditions; every shipping consignment is a milestone in delivering the target requirement and supporting UK farmers.