The Panamax bulker trade is mainly a grains trade, especially soybeans, and is very volatile.
And while it has previously been dominated by vessels moving cargos from Brazil to China, this route has been on a downtrend from a peak during the last quarter 2015, according to VesselsValue.com, who has tracked the top Panamax bulk shipping trade routes.
The evolution of the top trade routes for Panamax bulkers can be measured through the billons of ton miles (laden distance travelled multiplied by the amount of cargo carried for every vessel in the fleet) moved from country to country over time.
The main soybean export competitor to Brazil is the U.S. This route peaked in 2014 to 2015 when the U.S. had better than normal harvest, which led to lower U.S. export prices, and increased sales to China. Meanwhile, Brazil’s soybean crop that season developed slower due to weather incidents, and the U.S. poached Brazil
’s exports to China.
Q4 2016 saw a continuation of the reduction of ton miles on the Brazil to China route, with increases on the Australia
and U.S. to China routes. Australia has now moved up to second place in global Panamax bulk trade.
The top five Panamax bulk trade routes, according to VesselsValue.com:
- Brazil to China
- Austrlia to China
- U.S. to China
- China to China
- Australia to India