With news of last week’s UN deal to reopen the Black Sea, allowing ocean grain shipments to resume from Ukraine, leading real-time supply chain visibility platform FourKites® released new data showing that agile shippers are finding ways of managing the volatile situation.
Following Friday’s grain deal between Ukraine and Russia, FourKites expects grain shipments from Black Sea ports to resume within a few days. The same deal allows Russia to export fertiliser and other products not covered by international sanctions.
“My hope is that this agreement gives big shipping companies the confidence to resume operations in the region,” says Philippe Salles, FourKites’ VP Strategic Solutions (Ocean). “The next few weeks will be telling. But if things go well, this deal could be central to averting a worldwide food crisis. And despite the latest missile attack at the port of Odessa, indicating ongoing volatility in the region, our data indicates that shippers are well prepared for any contingency.”
Ukraine typically ships millions of tonnes of grain by ocean direct from its Black Sea ports to countries including Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The war effectively closed that route, as major shipping companies concluded it was too dangerous to operate in the Black Sea. Now, it is hoped, at least some of those shipments can resume.
“Our data for the last few weeks shows that logistics operators were already adapting to the situation in Ukraine,” says Salles. “Ukrainian shippers have been shifting to road and rail to move grain to sea ports outside the country, notably in Poland or via the Balkans to Adriatic ports such as Trieste and Rijeka.”
Shipments of all types to countries bordering Russia and Ukraine remain strong compared to the rest of Europe, where the 14-day average shipment volume is up 20% compared to 21 February, when the invasion began. At the same time, less than truckload (LTL) delays to Eastern Europe have decreased over the past few weeks, with delayed LTL shipments now only 15% higher than when the conflict began. This is down 48% month-on-month compared to mid-June, when LTL delays were as much as 33% higher than when the conflict began.
Prior to the UN deal, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain were destined to travel by longer land routes, which raised questions about whether there would be sufficient capacity to provide the thousands of additional truck journeys that would be needed.
“Ukrainian carriers are going full throttle to export grain and revive the country’s economic growth,” comments Maciej Mackowiak, FourKites’ Director, Carrier Marketing, Europe, who is based in Poland. “We are already seeing a lot of congestion on the Polish/Ukraine border because, since mid-July, the European Union has allowed Ukrainian road transport companies to make shipments without permits.”
Overall, moving goods into or out of Ukraine remains difficult. Shipment volumes to Ukraine have recovered slightly from their nadir in March, but are still 65% down on pre-war levels.