The Port of Tarragona works to guarantee the cereals supply chain
Faced with the avalanche of ship arrivals, the president of the Port of Tarragona, Saül Garreta, the general director of the APT, Ramón Ignacio García, and the director of Port operations, Núria Obiols, have met with representatives of the 5 stevedoring companies operating in Tarragona and the representative of ASFAC to discuss the current situation of congestion at the Port of Tarragona and the concern about the possible risk of shortages in the supply chain of wheat and soybeans for the production of animal feed.
This year’s poor cereal harvest in Spain and France, the Russian aggression against Ukraine (the world’s main exporter) and the energy crisis have made it necessary to import more cereals than in 2021 and has increased the arrival of agri-foodstuffs at the Port of Tarragona by 25% compared to last year. Thus, to date, the Port of Tarragona warehouses have more than 580,000 tonnes of cereals, of which 40,000 tonnes are wheat and another 40,000 tonnes are soya flour. Also at the moment, the Port of Tarragona has an almost total occupation of its quays with 20 ships berthed, half of them loaded with foodstuffs. While another 20 ships are waiting at anchor to free up space inside the port to unload their goods, among these ships anchored off the Tarragona coast there are 10 vessels loaded with cereals and other agri-foodstuffs. According to APT data, 4 ships loaded with wheat are in the process of unloading at the Aragó, Navarra and Castella quays, totalling 200,670 tonnes of wheat. Another 4 ships are being unloaded with other agri-foodstuffs (mainly maize), a cargo totalling 232,900 tonnes. In the anchorage area, three other vessels are carrying another 76,000 tonnes of wheat; four more vessels are carrying 192,600 tonnes of maize; and three other vessels: one with 26,000 tonnes of soybean meal and two with 34,000 tonnes of beet pulp and rye. In addition, from 8 January, two more ships with soya meal are expected to arrive.
Faced with this avalanche, the president of the APT reminded the parties of “the firm commitment to the positioning and competitiveness of the Port of Tarragona and its willingness to find short-term solutions to the challenges of loading and unloading at the end of the year” that companies and social representation of the dockers expressed in a meeting with him. Garreta assured that, “from a neutral position and from a mediating, proactive and demanding attitude, the APT will work to guarantee the supply chain by taking all the necessary steps to give greater unloading priority to ships loaded with wheat and soya”. At the same time, the president of the Port of Tarragona urged the stevedoring companies to take the extraordinary measures necessary to decongest the Tarragona docks.
For their part, the companies explained that “they had already warned that, despite having reinforced their services, the measures adopted were going to be insufficient” and that “they were prepared to put other actions in place, but so far it has not been possible to make further progress”, including the incorporation of 19 workers approved to operate on ships and the occasional reinforcement of workers from temporary companies for auxiliary tasks.
Both parties agreed that in the coming weeks it will be possible to recover a greater rate of unloading that will speed up the decongestion of the docks of Tarragona and ensure even more if possible the supply of cereals to the hinterland of the Port of Tarragona.