A recent study that compares the cost, transit time and reliability of transporting soybeans from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina to nine international destinations finds that the U.S. is consistently at the top for delivery predictability.
The study was completed by HighQuest Consulting for the United States Soybean Export Council and the Soy Transportation Coalition. It addresses the United States' waterway and rail transport systems and the economics of shipping to international customers.
"Our detailed study of soybean transportation networks concluded that despite the fact that the majority of U.S. inland soybean origination is further away from the export terminals than Brazil or Argentina, its system of roads, bridges, highways, railroads, and navigable waterways and ports place it in the position to be the most economical and reliable supplier to international customers," said Bill Devens, managing director and co-head of HighQuest Consulting.
The findings are further supported with research on transit times, noting that soybean shipments from the U.S. will arrive within three days of expected delivery date. That number rises to seven days for shipments from Argentina, and to 15 days when arriving from Brazil.
Though Argentina has an advantage in terms of shipping costs, it takes longer for soybeans in the country to reach port. Brazil, too, has key hurdles in getting soy to port, like strict rest requirements for truckers and poor off-loading coordination.
The study also examines the differences in transportation costs and predictability for destinations in China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, Egypt and more, finding that Brazil is generally the least predictable origin. Many importers said that predictability of delivery does matter to them because of the impacts that shipment delays have on their businesses.
"This study is a key benchmark in our close watch over the transportation industry in the U.S., where in the past couple of years, while still on par with exceptional delivery, transit times have increased, particularly in the Pacific Northwest area," said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.
"We need to remain diligent in the examination of these issues to ensure our nation improves its transportation for the agricultural sector, and this study provides valuable information in that endeavor," he said.
Read the full report, USSEC- Analysis of Transit Times, Transportation Costs and Predictability of Delivery, online.