Knowing which trade routes are growing in demand and which are shrinking is key for optimising which sectors ship owners should specialise in.
The evolution of the top 5 trade routes for Panamax bulkers can be measured through the billons of ton miles (laden distance travelled multiplied by the amount of cargo carried for every vessel in the fleet) moved from country to country over time.
The Panamax bulker trade is mainly a grains trade, especially soybeans, and is very volatile. Previously, it has been dominated by vessels moving cargos from Brazil to China. However this route has been on a downtrend from a peak during the last quarter 2015.
The main soybean export competitor to Brazil is the USA. This route peaked in 2014 to 2015 when the US had better than normal harvest, which led to lower US export prices, and increased sales to China. Meanwhile, Brazil’s soybean crop that season developed slower due to weather incidents, and the US “poached” Brazil’s exports to China.
Q4 2016 saw a continuation of the reduction of ton miles on the Brazil to China route, with increases on the Australia and USA to China routes.