(Includes comment from terminal operator RUMO, share code)
By Roberto Samora and Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO/NEW YORK, June 16 (Reuters) - The average waiting time for vessels to load sugar at Brazil’s main export terminal in the Santos port rose to staggering 45 days in the week ended in June 14, according to data from shipping agency Cargonave.
Waiting time for vessels at the RUMO SA terminal in Latin America’s largest port was an already high 41 days in the previous week, Cargonave said. At this time last year waits were between five and seven days.
Most of the global sugar trade turned to Brazil in the last three months as the country is producing a record sugar volume. Mills are giving priority to production of the sweetener over ethanol, after Brazil’s fuel market plunged due to stay-at-home measures.
The sudden move happened at a time when Brazil was also exporting a record volume of soybeans, which contributed to month-long waiting times for vessels.
Other sugar terminals in Santos have delays as well, but smaller ones. The Copersucar terminal, for example, had a waiting time of only 10 days last week, although it increased to 13 days on Monday, Cargonave said.
Waiting times at the RUMO terminal fell to 37 days on Monday, the shipping company said.
RUMO said in a statement on Tuesday that the wait is less than 30 days. It said the terminal is operating at full capacity.
A New York-based sugar broker said some traders had sought to get out of RUMO, moving cargos to other terminals in an effort to cut waiting times and additional waiting fees (demurrage costs).
Supply chain services company Czarnikow Group Ltd said there are also companies going to other ports, noting that the Sao Sebastiao port near Santos, which usually manages oil cargos and other liquids, had started to ship sugar for the first time since 2005.
Czarnikow said some sugar shipments in Brazil were rolled from June to July because of the congestion. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by David Gregorio)