The upheaval to shipping logistics in the wake of the pandemic is not getting any better anytime soon report grain traders in NSW.
Michelle Shaw, Bellata Gold, operates a semolina mill at Tamworth and reported the lack of containers and general freight delays were playing havoc getting product to customers, both overseas and domestic.
"Shipping costs have doubled, trucking rates have increased and a container imbalance surcharge means we are being hit every step of the way," she said.
Ms Shaw said simply getting an empty container up-country to Werris Creek by train, to Tamworth by truck, loading it and getting it back to port within the eight day turnaround limit was nearly impossible while port delays and shipping cancellations all meant extra cost for the small exporter.
Adam Robinson, Robinson Grains Dubbo, said the shortage of container supply has only become worse since Christmas.
"We're doing the best we can," he said.
"There is record demand. We are shipping lots of containers, full of wheat and pulses but for some locations it's impossible to get them there - for Bangladesh there is no rate available.
"We can't ship to there and Karachi, Pakistan, is no better. India is tough. For China you can get boats there so it depends on the destination.
"Meanwhile the rates to many places have doubled. They're huge. It's a supply and demand thing so you sell to your capabilities. There is still a lot of grain going out every month in bulk and containers.
"Consumer demand and COVID-19 related issues are creating their own issues with supply. Ships will sail right past a port if there's congestion.
"These are very difficult times. They hamper trade but there's not much you can do."
Mr Robinson said the severe port congestion in the US and Europe had a "butterfly effect" on the rest of the world.
Director of the Australian Fertiliser Services Association Shane Dellavedova said supply had been caught short earlier in the year when unforeseen trade events diverted stock away from the Australian east coast but because orders were usually placed well in advance rather than "just in time", fertiliser supplies were sufficient to finish winter sowing.
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