Due to the increase in the volume of grains, vegetable oils and protein meals shipped abroad during 2016, there also was a strong demand for freight by truck towards the Rosario Hub, with approximately 300,000 more trucks delivering grain than last year. According to our estimates, 1,960,000 trucks; 210,000 wagons and 3,000 barges arrived to the terminal ports and crushing plants located in the Rosario Hub in 2016. Adding to this impressive freight logistic, 2,400 ocean ships arrived in the same calendar year in order to load several types of products, like fertilizers, containers, minerals; but most of all grain, vegetable oils and byproducts.
During 2016, almost 65 million tons of grain arrived to the crushing plants and terminal ports of the Rosario Hub to be shipped or processed, and later exported, through several freight modes. We have to add products from other origins, like Paraguay or Bolivia, which amounted to 903,029 tons of grains; 1,735,546 tons of protein meals and 726,216 tons of vegetable oils. All of them arrived by barges through the Parana-Paraguay Waterway so as to be transferred to ocean ships.
Grains, vegetable oils and protein meal shipments from the Rosario Hub amounted to 67 million tons in 2016, which represented an 11% increase against the previous year and signified 78% of Argentina’s total shipments in these types of products.
The Rosario Hub is divided into two areas -North and South-, but 78% of the bulk grains delivered by trucks are destined to the terminals and crushing plants of the North Rosario Hub. Unfortunately, there is no detailed information of the rail freight.
From a geographical standpoint, the ports and industrial plants in the “South Rosario Hub” are those located on the margin of the Paraná River from the south of Rosario to the city of Arroyo Seco. These are (cities between brackets): Servicios Portuarios S.A. (which operates units VI and VII of the Rosario port), Cargill (Villa Gobernador Gálvez and Punta Alvear), Louis Dreyfus Commodities (General Lagos) and Toepfer (Arroyo Seco). On the other hand, terminals in the “North Rosario Hub” are those located north of the city of Rosario, including those in the cities of San Lorenzo, Puerto General San Martín (PGSM) and Timbues. Among these, we can find Molinos (San Benito), Vicentín and ACA (San Lorenzo), Bunge (which operates the Pampa and Dempa ports in PGSM); Toepfer, Cofco, Cargill and Terminal 6 S.A. (in PGSM); and finally, Cofco and Renova S.A. in Timbúes.
In order to estimate the number of wagons that transported grains into the Rosario Hub, we have supposed a loading capacity of 50 tons per wagon. This assumption probably overestimates the effective loading capacity of these vehicles, so our estimate of 210,000 wagons could be larger, albeit slightly.
According to information provided by the National Transport Regulation Commission (CNRT by its Spanish acronym), transport of grains, vegetable oils and other by-products by railway grew by almost 9% in 2016.
According to our estimates, 83.5% of shipments arrived to the Rosario Hub by truck, 16% by railway and a mere 0.5% by barges.
As usually, we advise our readers to be cautious about our estimates, since we work with a lack precise information. For example, our estimate of 1,960,000 trucks that arrived to the Rosario Hub in 2016 does not take into account other shipments such as those which carry biodiesel to refineries or those that carry vegetable oil to biodiesel plants. We consider – with a high degree of confidence- that the number of 2,000,000 trucks adequately reflects the reality of road transit in the Rosario Hub as far as the commerce of grains, oils and by-products is concerned. We also remind our readers that we are not taking into account trucks that carry fuels, fertilizers, containers, and any other kind of loads.
Finally, the number of ships that entered the ports located on the Rosario Hub rose to 2,420 units, 11.6% more than in 2015. This estimate includes boats from overseas but excludes barges and ships that make domestic trips, and also might overestimate the actual total given that any time a ship stops in more than one port during a trip duplication occurs. We also have to warn readers that this number also includes overseas ships that load cargo other than grains, oils and by-products.
If we assume that about 90% of these ships enter the ports of the Rosario Hub in order to load grains, oils and by-products, we would be talking about 2,180 that entered the area with that purpose, with an average load of 31,000 tons per ship.
As we can see, the volume of shipments through the ports of the Rosario Hub keep rising. To have a better idea of such increase, we can point to the 41% increase in tons exported between 2006 and 2016, which becomes 96% if we take the year 2000 as the basis for our comparison.
In this context of rising freight demand there has not been major alterations to the capacity and quality of the area’s road and railway infrastructure, with only few exceptions. It is so that, as we usually highlight, it is of utmost importance that the necessary public works that have been postponed over time are completed as soon as possible