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Agriculture

Vessel tracking gives new insight on agri exports

Daniel Redo, Libin Zhou

06 Jul 2017

A Dole vessel transporting containers with boxes of bananas is anchored at Dole's Port in Guayaquil February 23, 2012. Photographer: Guillermo Granja
A Dole vessel transporting containers with boxes of bananas is anchored at Dole’s Port in Guayaquil February 23, 2012. Photographer: Guillermo Granja

A new vessel tracking system for agricultural commodity flows is being rolled out in more countries following its success monitoring Brazilian shipments, such as soybean and corn.

The reliable and timely tracking of commodities shipments is an effective way to monitor agriculture trading and to react to market risks or opportunities.

To do so, it is necessary to track real-time shipments, know the volume and timing of agricultural commodities currently moving between ports, and forecast potential imports and exports.

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But until recently, no single data provider offered the complete picture, with key information spread across multiple providers in inconsistent formats.

Existing data on these movements is often published too late to be of much use.

Download white paper —Agriculture Flows in Eikon: Access the Complete Picture of Commodity Flows

Vessel Line-Up

Building on the current Ag Flows on Thomson Reuters Eikon, a new agricultural flows product called Vessel Line-up has been developed in order to process and analyze fragmented multi-sourced data.

The new flow model integrates port inspection data and automatic vessel tracking systems (AIS). It currently tracks all shipments in Brazil, including sailed vessels from 2015 to present and vessels to be loaded and/or to be expected.

Additionally, the model updates the flows daily based on a vessel’s location until it approaches the destination and discharges its cargo.

Vessel Line-ups flows, the new agricultural flows product from Thomson Reuters
Vessel Line-Ups flows, the new agricultural flows product from Thomson Reuters

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The new Ag flows currently covers Brazil, but will soon be expanded to Argentina and other South American countries.

Utilizing this database makes it possible to:

  • Track all vessels carrying agricultural products, including vessel position, cargoes, destination, volume and estimated time of arrival.
  • Monitor import/exports of agricultural products at various ports, countries or regions now, in the past and in the future.
  • Understand and compare past, current and future vessel waiting times at major ports.
  • Access insights from our analysts synthesizing the latest information.

Download white paper —Agriculture Flows in Eikon: Access the Complete Picture of Commodity Flows

Soybean exports

According to the Vessel Line-Ups flows in Eikon, Brazil is exporting record high soybean and corn shipments this year, even though prices have been slashed from last year and farmers are reluctant to sell their harvest.

One reason for the strong exports is that favorable weather and increased plantings have resulted in record-breaking soybean and corn production.

Since the soybean harvest started in January, Vessel Line-Ups flows for Brazil have consistently reported strong soybean exports, even though low soybean prices have delayed exports to some degree.

Brazil soybeans exports in Vessel Line-ups from Thomson Reuters
Brazil soybeans exports in Vessel Line-Ups from Thomson Reuters

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Most of the major importers of Brazil soybeans have increased their deliveries, including China, Russia, Spain, Taiwan and Iran. Brazil is the world’s second-biggest producer of soybeans after the United States.

The fact that soybean exports in June accelerated is likely to be due to storage pressure, exacerbated by a second crop corn harvest that is currently in full-swing.

A seven percent drop in the local currency has also made their supplies more affordable than exports from the United States.

Recent agricultural flows reflect rapid soybean exports in June.

June soybean exports as of 20 June were 5.7 million tons, 13 percent above the same period of last year. The fast pace of soybean exports will likely persist in the next couple of months.

A truck lines up to be loaded with soybeans in a farm in the city of Primavera do Leste in the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Photographer: Paulo Whitaker

Download white paper —Agriculture Flows in Eikon: Access the Complete Picture of Commodity Flows

Corn exports

Brazil corn exports usually start in June when the second crop is harvested and will last through to next March.

This year, bearish corn prices (down nearly 40 percent from last year) may slow selling, although a bumper harvest that easily smashes any previous record indicates that corn exports will largely exceed the past two years.

The Vessel Line-ups flows in June reflect a strong start for Brazil corn exports.
The Vessel Line-Ups flows in June reflect a strong start for Brazil corn exports.

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As of 20 June, 400,000 tons of corn have shipped from Brazil, and over 350,000 tons of corn are currently loading and will depart from Brazil soon.

Total June exports may approach or exceed one million tons, compared with 309,000 tons for 2005 and 130,000 tons for 2016.

Besides corn and soybean exports, the Vessel Line-Up flows model also monitors soybean meal, wheat, and sugar in Brazil.

Next, we will create and add Ag flows in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay into the new Vessel Line-Up product.

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