China corn cargo loads out of Ukraine, force majeure declared

Vessels carrying Ukrainian corn for shipment to China were successfully loaded and sailed as of Friday morning China local time, and importers declared force majeure for unloaded cargoes.

A panamax vessel chartered by a large Chinese corn importer completed its loading in Odessa early Friday, according to a China-based trader who is involved in the trade, despite reports of shutdown across Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.

At least three other vessels were also heard loading corn and wheat in Ukraine late Thursday for delivery to Turkey.

However, buyers of Ukrainian grains who wish to book cargoes for future shipments are unable to find ships that are willing to go near Ukrainian waters.

Many importers have declared force majeure for their forward shipments that have not been loaded.

Several freight traders are expecting importers to drop their cargo bookings as the paper market for freight plunged on Thursday.

“We see 3 or 4 [cargoes dropped] already,” said one UK-based trader.

Meanwhile, rising fuel costs for freight have also piled further pressure on Chinese importers after CBOT futures for soybeans, corn and wheat all jumped overnight.

The uncertainty of shipping grains and oilseeds from the Black Sea could force Chinese buyers to turn to the US for alternative supply of corn exports.

The US was the largest corn exporter to China in 2021, supplying almost 20 million tons.