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Borderlands: Houston export terminal lets Temco capitalize on grain demand

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: Houston export terminal lets Temco capitalize on grain demand; $10M FAST lanes completed at World Trade Bridge; Spearpoint Logistics to open distribution hub in Texas; and Port Houston’s terminal container yards receive upgrade.

Houston export terminal lets Temco capitalize on grain demand

With the U.S. exporting a record $196 billion in agricultural products last year, Temco LLC aims to seize more of the global agribusiness market by adding an export grain terminal in Houston.

Located about 40 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico via Galveston Bay, the Texas facility will provide shipping access for grains and other products through Port Houston to markets in Latin America, Africa and China.

Temco is a joint venture between U.S.-based agribusiness giants CHS Inc. and Cargill. The companies are expanding the scope of the joint venture by adding the Cargill-owned facility in Houston.

“CHS is the nation’s largest farmer-owned cooperative and Cargill is the biggest shipper of grain in the world, so continuing to expand this partnership makes good business sense and will allow us even greater flexibility in meeting our customers’ demands,” Cargill and CHS officials said in an email to FreightWaves.

Cargill and CHS also jointly operate grain export facilities in Portland, Oregon, as well as Kalama and Tacoma, Washington, using those terminals to ship grains to China, Japan and South Korea. 

CHS markets to a number of other countries that include Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Algeria, Egypt, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The aim of adding the facility in Houston to the joint venture is to export about 150 million bushels of grain annually. Products such as hard red wheat, sorghum, corn and soybeans will be the primary commodities exported from the terminal.

“This increase in export volume drives additional value for growers and strengthens our supply chain back to the interior U.S., creating a new exit ramp for heartland-grown grain headed to global markets through the Texas Gulf Coast,” Cargill and CHS said.

St. Paul, Minnesota-based CHS Inc. is a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the U.S., providing diversified products in the energy, agronomy, grains and foods sectors.

Minneapolis-based Cargill is a global food corporation and the largest privately owned company in the U.S. The company is also one of the biggest charterers of bulk carriers in the world.

Gulf Coast ports usually receive grains from growers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas. The grains arrive mostly by rail and truck deliveries to the ports. About 60% of grain exports leave the U.S. from terminals along the Gulf of Mexico, including ports in New Orleans and Houston.

Port Houston is one of the busiest container gateways in the U.S. Last year, the port set a container volume record, moving 3.97 million twenty-foot equivalent units, its highest total ever recorded and a 14% year-over-year increase compared to 2021.

Temco’s Houston terminal will utilize 100 to 120 loaded bulk carrier vessels annually. The facility also has enough storage for 6 million bushels, capacity for 350 rail cars, and handling capabilities for up to 250 million bushels annually. The terminal receives both trucks and rail cars.

About 65% to 70% of CHS’ grain exports currently originate from the U.S. versus grains bought and shipped from other areas of the world.

Grain rail carload shipments across the U.S. are down overall about 7% year over year as of last Saturday, while U.S. rail exports to Mexico are up 68% year over year, according to FreightWaves SONAR platform.

A comparison of U.S. grain carloads shows current shipments (blue) are down 7% year over year compared to 2022 (green).
To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

The Russia-Ukraine war has affected the global grain trade outlook for 2023, adding some uncertainty to the agribusiness supply chain, according to Cargill and CHS.

“Supply flows have changed because Ukraine is not able to operate as they did before the war, and volatility remains an issue,” Cargill and CHS said. “However, we continue to see strong demand for ag products both within the U.S. and abroad.”

$10M FAST lanes completed at World Trade Bridge

New lanes for the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program recently opened at the World Trade Bridge in Laredo,Texas.

The $10.3 million project added four lanes and inspection booths for commercial trucks, increasing the bridge’s capacity by 36%. The aim is to give the 2,000 carriers in the FAST program their own dedicated route at the bridge, officials said.

“Laredo is the busiest land port in the U.S.,” U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said in a statement. “This expansion will help eliminate congestion at the World Trade Bridge port of entry and expedite the flow of trade into our country.”

FAST lanes are utilized by members of the Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism Program, in which businesses must comply with safety measures to become a trusted shipper partner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The new FAST lanes will increase commercial truck capacity by 36% at the World Trade Bridge. (Photo: Office of Rep. Henry Cuellar.)

Spearpoint Logistics to open distribution hub in Texas

Spearpoint Logistics plans to open a 417,000-square-foot distribution hub just north of Fort Worth, Texas, according to the The Dallas Morning News.

The facility will be located in the Intermodal Logistics Center industrial park near Interstate 35, serving as the company’s hub in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for shippers moving freight from Mexico to the U.S.

Caspar, Wyoming-based Spearpoint Logistics is a nationwide warehousing and transportation provider. In addition to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the company has warehouses in Houston; Newark, Delaware; Evansville, Wyoming; and Sparks, Nevada.

Port Houston’s terminal container yards receive upgrade

McCarthy Building Cos. Inc. has been awarded a $30.9 million contract from the Port Houston Authority to rehab Barbours Cut Terminal container yards 4 and 5.

The project is part of a modernization program to increase cargo handling efficiency at Port Houston. It involves installing new utilities, including setting down 695 feet of reinforced concrete pipe, adding 3,300 linear feet of 4-foot trench drains, reworking roadways and laying joint enforced pavement.

The combined sites total 630,000 square feet. McCarthy is scheduled to complete rehabilitation of the yards in about 13 months.

McCarthy is headquartered in St. Louis. The company’s port and marine terminal construction services include pier construction, building wharfs, container terminals and more. 

Watch: the rising tide of trucking bankruptcies.

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