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April 4, 2014

Brazil on track for Record Soybean Exports

The month of March ended up being a good month for soybean exports from Brazil. According to the Exterior Commerce Secretary (Secex), 6.23 million tons of soybeans were exported during March, which set a new record for the month. March is generally considered the first big export month in Brazil and the bulk of the country's soybean exports will leave Brazil during the March to August timeframe.

Soybean exports started in Brazil during the last week of January when one vessel loaded with 36,000 tons of soybeans left the country. Soybean exports increased to 2.8 million tons in February which set a new record for the month and then 6.23 million tons were exported in March, which was also a new record. In March of 2013 Brazil exported 3.5 million tons of soybeans and in March of 2012 they exported 4.2 million tons.

Brazilian farmers are finishing harvesting a record large crop and the country is also expected to export a record amount of soybeans in 2014. Conab's latest assessment of the 2013/14 crop is that Brazilian farmers will produce 85.4 million tons of soybeans, but many private analysts are estimating that the crop will be slightly larger than that. Last year Brazil exported 43 million tons of soybeans and that number is expected to increase to 45 million tons in 2014.

May is generally the peak soybean export month in Brazil. If the weather along the Brazilian coast is relatively dry next month, Brazil could surpass the old one month record of 7.93 million tons of soybean exports set in May of 2013.

Dryer than normal weather during February and March helped to set new export records for those two months, but there have also been structural improvements made at the ports as well. Improved capacity and efficiency at the port of Rio Grande allowed that port to move into second place ahead of the Port of Paranagua last year for total soybean exports. Their capacity has been expanded even further this year. For their part, the Port of Paranagua has also improved their operations by instituting an "express line" for vessels that will load from a limited number of warehouses at the port. This change alone is expected to increase the capacity of the port by 10%.

Collectively, port and government officials are confident that Brazil will be able to export a record amount of soybeans in 2014 with fewer bottlenecks than what was encountered in 2013.