West Coast
Dry Bulk Market

US - Dry bulk ships generating 300%-plus more revenue today than 6 months ago

The effects of COVID-19 on international shipping are still actively unfolding ⁠— but not only at the West Coast ports where there is a “parking lot” of containerized cargo ships waiting in droves.

The effects of COVID-19 on international shipping are still actively unfolding ⁠— but not only at the West Coast ports where there is a “parking lot” of containerized cargo ships waiting in droves. While container rates have spiked after growing demand in the second half of 2020, causing labor and vessel shortages to ensue, so have freight rates across the entire industry, including those for raw commodities.

Before COVID-19, ships hauling dry bulk ⁠— like iron ore, coal and grain ⁠— were making somewhere between $7,000 and $10,000 per day. Today, those same ships are making $30,000 a day, three times what they were making just six months ago. The raw commodity market is red hot following a period of pent-up demand.

For one client alone, a dry bulk ship will carry about 70,000 metric tons of Midwestern corn, for example, from New Orleans to Japan, by way of hundreds of small barges on the Mississippi River. The total cost of transportation for this end-to-end journey is $4 million, including $1 million worth of fuel and a $200,000 fee for loading the corn off the barges and onto the ship.

Like other industry segments, raw commodity shipping lacks visibility, overly depends on third parties and is therefore attracting significant financial interest from venture capitalists. Ocean Freight Exchange (OFE), a multiplatform marketplace that has raised over $6 million now in funding since its launch in 2015, has made significant strides to digitize the bulk and tanker industry.

Read also: 5 reasons global shipping costs will continue to rise  ING Think

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