UPDATE 1-Brazil truck strike wanes; more soy gets to ports

martes 3 de marzo de 2015 14:48 GYT

(Updates number of roadblocks, adds Itajai port, market reaction)

By Caroline Stauffer and Gustavo Bonato

SAO PAULO, March 3 (Reuters) - Only a handful of roads remained blocked in Brazil on Tuesday as truck drivers focused their grievances on Brasilia and a key highway in top soy state Mato Grosso opened after two weeks of protests.

There were seven protests over rising freight costs affecting federal highways, down from 18 on Monday and well below peaks of more than 100 a week ago, police said. May soybean future prices fell 0.76 percent as a result.

By mid-afternoon 500 trucks had arrive at Brazil's No. 2 soy exporting port of Paranagua where recent roadblocks depleted soy stocks. That was enough to guarantee exports at least through Thursday rather than Wednesday, a spokesman said.

In addition to leaving supermarkets with empty shelves and slowing soybean harvesting, the strike has cost Brazil's poultry and pork industries $241 million, industry association ABPA said. Some slaughter plants remained closed due to roadblocks, it added.

Access to the country's main poultry exporting port of Itajai in Santa Catarina state has also been blocked since Friday, according to Fabio Rosa, a manager at a private warehouse near the port.

Warehouses like his are full, holding some 300 refrigerated containers, he said.

"We've never had this many containers. The big companies, JBS, BRF are all waiting to access the port and load ships," Rosa said.   Continuación...