French grain sector fears export squeeze as strikes hit logistics

Strikes over pension reform in France could slow grain exports from this month by preventing enough supplies from reaching ports and by making the French crop too expensive to compete overseas

Demonstrators hold a banner reading "Macron, you dickhead, we want your resignation" during a demonstration on the Vieux-Port of Marseille

Paris - Strikes over pension reform in France could slow grain exports from this month by preventing enough supplies from reaching ports and by making the French crop too expensive to compete overseas, industry participants said on Friday.

A month-old public transport strike that has crippled rail services and rolling stoppages by dock workers have left companies in the European Union’s biggest grain producer struggling to get grain to ports and onto vessels during a period of strong overseas demand.
 
Exporters could face a shortage of grain to ship in the second half of January if strikes continue, Soufflet, one of France’s top grain exporters, said.
 
“There is a difficulty supplying port silos. If the trend was to continue, we risk having a supply shortage,” Jean-Francois Lepy, head of the company’s trading branch Soufflet Negoce, told a news conference.
 
So far, grain firms have managed to keep export vessels supplied by scooping up stocks in zones close to ports and by turning to lorry transport.
 
That has already brought extra costs as lorries are more expensive than trains, while the rush to find supplies has pushed up wheat prices.
 
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