Town port’s pivotal pandemic role set to continue

Rice being discharged from the general cargo ship Ijsseldijk at ABP's Port of Ipswich in June 2020 Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

Rice being discharged from the general cargo ship Ijsseldijk at ABP's Port of Ipswich in June 2020 Picture: STEPHEN WALLER - Credit: Archant

The Port of Ipswich’s critical role in handling key agricultural commodities during the pandemic is set to continue, port bosses believe.

Port owner Associated British Ports (ABP) said its ports in Ipswich and King’s Lynn have continued to play a vital role in keeping agricultural products moving during the pandemic.

Ipswich has consistently been top for outward traffic in the UK – which includes domestic and international traffic – since 2005.

Its leading role as the UK’s number one export port for agricultural products was underlined by the Department for Transport (DfT)’s Annual UK Port Freight statistics released in August 2020.

MORE – East Anglian port storing chemical linked with Beirut explosionSince July 2020, Ipswich has handled “a significant flow” of products such as barley, maize, soya and wheat for its customers, including over 120,000 tonnes for shipping firm Clarksons and more than 152,000 tonnes for leading grain trader COFCO, said ABP.

It reached a cargo-handling total of more than 1.6m tonnes since lockdown on March 23 after more than 13,000 tonnes from MV Sten Bergen was discharged in September.

Divisional port manager Paul Ager said over the summer months alone King’s Lynn and Ipswich welcomed 56 vessels which have exported nearly 200,000 tonnes of agricultural products.

“This is a truly impressive amount and I would like to thank our teams on the ground and our customers for working hard to keep cargo flows moving efficiently,” he said.

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COFCO International UK boss Tim Capey said: “Under challenging circumstances created by Covid-19, COFCO International are pleased with the import and export volumes handled through the Port of Ipswich. This achievement would not have been possible without the diligence and commitment from all of our staff and the assistance of ABP’s operational teams.”

David Rumsey, managing director at Clarkson Port Services Ltd said working with ABP, it had been able to quickly adapt to the harvest conditions and UK mills’ requirements.

“This year our team prepared early for a greater import year, which has kept them very busy,” he said. “Our customs department have also increased in size in order to provide our customers with the knowledge and confidence of continued trading through the ending of the Brexit Transition Period. We look forward to further strong months working together.”

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