November shipments of Brazilian coffee, corn and sugar eased slightly compared with October but remained firm compared with a year ago as the weak real kept commodities exports competitive abroad, Trade Ministry data showed.
Several days of rain at the key southern ports of Santos and Paranagua slowed loading of bulk commodities such as corn and sugar but exports were still well up for both crops from last year in November, traders said.
“Brazil had a record corn harvest and soy export season has passed,” said Paulo Molinari, a corn specialist at Safras e Mercado analyst. “Corn is filling idle port capacity, including at newly operational northern and northeastern ports.”
He said free-on-board corn export prices were currently slightly higher than in the US Gulf ports and that most of the corn moving through the ports presently was sold some months ago.
The Trade Ministry said November corn exports were 4.76 million tonnes, down from a record shipment of 5.5 million tonnes in October.
The grain exporters association Anec released its own numbers on Tuesday, which showed 4.9 million tonnes left Brazil in November, down from 5 million in October. Analysts say the Trade Ministry sometimes holds some volumes over to register them in the following months.
Traders also said that even though rains were slowing commodity exports out of Brazil’s main southern ports, the expansion of railways and grain terminal capacity on tributaries of the Amazon and in Sao Luis, Maranhao, were helping the country export more corn.
The infrastructure build out in recent years has helped to take pressure off the once overworked southern ports.
Coffee exports of 3.1 million bags last month were slightly off the 3.3 million bags shipped in October but up from the 2.8 million exported last November, the trade ministry said.
“The arabica exports are still relatively high historically but domestic robusta prices are too expensive to allow a lot of exports with Vietnam’s harvest coming up,” said Daniel Wolthers, a lead trader at Wolthers & Associates in Santos.
He said most big roasters and blenders were done buying for the season and currently working on their taxes and closing out the year financially.