MV Dragon 9 grain ship

A good chunk of the UK’s huge barley surplus is on its way to Saudi Arabia. The 66,000t feed barley cargo is believed to be the UK’s largest ever barley shipment.

It was loaded on to the MV Great Dragon 9 for Openfield through its deep-water Portbury Grain Terminal facility and is expected to take 21 days to reach its destination via the Suez Canal.

More than 250 farmers and merchants supplied the grain, with up to 8,500t a day being delivered to two intake pits and a third lane which was added for harvest 2015.

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Loading took five days under 24-hour operation, using a mobile ship loader which can load up to 1,000t/hour in dry weather.

The ability to load 60,000-tonne vessels opened up markets like this, said David Doyle, head of sales and trading at Openfield. However the competition was very hot – while it helped massively that freight rates were so low, that helped everyone else too. The specification for this consignment was for standard feed barley except for a tighter than normal moisture requirement, he said.