Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System continues to be reliable agriculture shipping route

Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System continues to be reliable agriculture shipping route

US grain shipments up over 41 percent year over year through September

Great Lakes Seaway Partnership announced the tonnage report for traffic through the St. Lawrence System through September, 2022. The numbers show that the Seaway System continues to provide a reliable global shipping route for agricultural products.

“September’s tonnage report re-affirms that the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a reliable shipping corridor enabling U.S. growers and producers to feed the world,” said Jeff Scharf, Acting Deputy Administrator, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “With a busy few months remaining in the 2022 season, we’re confident that our Great Lakes ports are ready to finish the year strong.”

Through September, the Seaway System has moved 689,000 metric tonnes of U.S. grain. This is a 41.24 percent increase compared to the same period in 2021.

It’s estimated that U.S. Great Lakes ports traded with at least 15 countries during September, compared to 23 in August.

Below are the key performance indicators and commodity trackers comparing tonnage numbers through September 2022 to the same period of 2021.

2022 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Performance Indicators**
  2021 2022 Change (+/-)
Total Transits* 2,587 2,664 +2.98%
Total Cargo* 24,756,000 mt 23,361,000 mt -5.63%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**All data is compared year-over-year (2021: Shipments from April 1 to Sept. 30 2021) (2022: Shipments from March 22 to Sept. 30 2022)


2022 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Key Commodity Trackers***
  2021 2022 Change (+/-)**
U.S Grain 488,000 mt 689,000 mt +41.24 %
Coke* 1,087,000 mt 1,271,000 mt +16.95%
Potash* 257,000 mt 930,000 mt +261.55%
Scrap Metal* 54,000 mt 60,000 mt +11.32%
Petroleum Products* 1,212,000 mt 1,727,000 mt +42.50%
Other General Cargo 60,000 mt 170,000 mt +181.28%
*Combined U.S. and Canadian traffic

**Percentages rounded to nearest tenth

***All data is compared year-over-year (2021: Shipments from April 1 to Sept. 30 2021) (2022: Shipments from March 22 to Sept. 30 2022)

September highlights from American Great Lakes ports

Lake Michigan

During September, Port Milwaukee’s docks received shipments of steel and pieces of a yacht.

“Port Milwaukee is realizing new maritime commerce opportunities with an increase of high-value breakbulk and project cargoes traveling through our terminals,” said Port Milwaukee Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht. “From The DeLong Co., Inc. assembling a new ship loader for agricultural exports, to the delivery of curved steel plates, brewery tanks, and superyacht pieces, Port Milwaukee stands ready to welcome and transport cargo of all kinds in supporting regional economic activity that moves the Great Lakes supply chain forward.”

Pieces of a yacht being unloaded at Port Milwaukee. (Photo credit to Pat A. Robinson, provided by Port Milwaukee.)

Lake Erie

The Port Of Monroe/DRM Terminal Management team celebrated the christening of Interlake Steamship Company’s new vessel Mark W. Barker in September and welcomed the ship to Monroe for the first time in early October. The ship loaded a cargo of synthetic gypsum at the turning basin dock for delivery to Port Colborne, Ontario.

“Any time a vessel of the Interlake Steamship Co. calls upon the Port, it is special. In this case, it is historic,” said Capt. Paul C. LaMarre III, Port Director, Port of Monroe. “Interlake’s continued support of our growth and cargo diversification has made them a major piece of the Port’s living Great Lakes legacy. We are excited to work with Interlake and use this versatile vessel to move multiple cargoes in and out of the Port.”

The Mark W. Barker at the Port of Monroe (Photo provided by Port of Monroe)

The Port of Toledo surpassed 8 million tons for the season during the month of September, a month that included three inbound aluminum shipments and two outbound grain shipments.

“We believe the positive momentum of the 2022 shipping season will continue into the fourth quarter,” said Joseph Cappel, VP of Business Development for the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority.  “We are looking forward to the fall harvest when grain products from the Toledo Region will be exported throughout the world.  Watching farmers line up their trucks to deliver their products at the terminals and then to see that product immediately loaded onto an ocean vessel for export demonstrates the reliability and capabilities of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System as a critical link to the global marketplace.  It’s a true demonstration of the supply chain in action.”

Lake Superior

More than 3.6 million short tons of maritime cargo transited the Port of Duluth-Superior in September 2022, lifting total tonnage past 20.3 million for the season in North America’s furthest-inland seaport. While still 8.8 percent below the five-season average, that total tonnage deficit declined 1.4% compared to August and nearly 10 percent since June 30.

“July marked a turning point, August was very good, and September was solid in terms of total tonnage and vessel traffic through the Port of Duluth-Superior,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “It’s been a nice rally and we’re hopeful that it will continue with a good harvest season, reactivation of Duluth Elevator A, more general cargo shipments scheduled and generally promising market conditions for some of our natural resource bulk cargoes.”