Container Sea Freight Takes a Big Leap in Duluth | The daily briefing
The Port of Duluth has made significant progress in the container shipping sector.
On Friday, the port’s first sea container shipment was loaded onto the Nunalik, a general cargo ship that carries 200 twenty-foot containers of bagged red beans to Europe. Moving the cargo across the Great Lakes will reduce global stress on the supply chain and speed product delivery, food and transportation officials said at a morning news conference.
“It gave us more control over our product,” said Cindy Brown, president of Chippewa Valley Bean in Menomonie, Wisconsin, which has traditionally shipped beans grown in the region by rail from Minneapolis to Montreal and then by ship. across the Atlantic Ocean.
In recent months, “the supply chain has fundamentally collapsed,” Brown said. For example, a shipment from February 2021 remained in containers until June 2021, she explained. “It’s a long time for the product to stay in the middle of the United States. We have a major problem in the United States with congestion, with railroads, with highways. To be able to use this port, which is so close to us, is it good? It’s really great – to have the bodies of water here and people who are willing to work together.
Coordinating the system requires multiple players, said Jonathan Lamb, president of Duluth Cargo Connect, a partnership between the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Lake Superior Warehousing. Those involved in the expedition include Chippewa Valley Bean, Jeff Foster Trucking, Nexyst 360 (which assembles sustainable supply chain solutions) and Spliethoff Group in Cleveland, which owns the 452ft Nunalik and supplied it in the under a charter agreement.
“We’re so excited to bring all of these pieces together,” said Wes Sanda of Nexyst 360. “As we bring in more and more customers, obviously we’d like to funnel more and more business through Duluth.”
Although the first deal was prompted by supply chain challenges, Lamb said the Port of Duluth has benefits to offer even when freight movement normalizes. The key to economic success is to fill an entire ship, he explained.
“Chippewa Valley Bean is a perfect fit for us. Part of the problem is finding the right return cargo,” he added, noting that grain would also be a suitable export commodity. Upon arrival in Duluth, the Nunalik carried a cargo of wind energy components.
Minnesota is America’s largest producer of kidney beans, which are in demand around the world. CVB cargo is exported to 10 different locations in four countries – Italy, Germany, France and Hungary – but transport to the Middle East and the UK is also needed, Brown said.