Ukraine War Turns French Port Of Rouen Into Grain Powerhouse

Ukraine War Turns French Port Of Rouen Into Grain Powerhouse
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Dozens of miles inland from the English Channel, the Seine River port of Rouen is bustling with shipments of wheat, barley and other grains, a boom fuelled by the Russian chokehold on Ukraine’s agriculture exports. Moscow’s invasion has forced countries worldwide to find other sources for essential cereals, propelling France to the world’s fourth-largest exporter of wheat — and making Rouen and its 18,000 workers a key player in the global market.

“We’ve had unusual destinations such as Pakistan, Iran, India and Saudi Arabia. And countries like Algeria, which had shifted toward the Black Sea, have come back,” said Manuel Gaborieau, head of cereals development at Haropa Port, which manages Rouen as well as the ports of Le Havre and Paris. Rouen, the biggest cereals port in Western Europe, saw record loadings of five million tonnes in the first half of 2022, usually the low point of the year, after Ukraine was attacked last February, he said.

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The port has a long history as a trading hub, but grains came to prominence only in the 1960s when producers built the first silos at the site. It now houses six grain terminals capable of storing 900,000 tonnes, and up to 110,000 tonnes can be loaded onto ships in a day. “In Europe, only the Romanian port of Constanta has this level of capacity,” Gaborieau said. “Our huge advantage is being right next to the biggest grain producing region of France,” said Alain Charvillat, export director at Senalia, the largest cereals operator at the port.

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