Chinese authorities announced the first successful rail shipment of corn in bulk from northeast to south, described as a "breakthrough" in grain logistics.
This is an initiative to bring more efficiency to Chinese grain marketing. Currently, most Chinese grain is shoveled into bags, stacked on trucks, moved to trains or boats, etc., before reaching its final destination. Filling and emptying bags, stacking and unstacking them involves high costs and waste at each stage of the supply chain. The Chinese government has launched a "four bulks" program to promote a shift from bags to bulk-handling and transportation of grain as a "modernization" of Chinese logistics. Greater efficiency and reduced waste in grain handling and transport is badly needed as inter-regional grain shipments become more important.
The pilot program is in the northeastern region--which is the only major source of surplus corn to supply feed mills across the country. The program was announced last year by the National Development and Reform Commission's Railway Department, the Ministry of Finance and the National Grain Bureau. The first shipment took place on January 21 and took 82 hours to transport corn from Songyuan in Jilin Province to Yueyang in Hunan. China Grain Logistics Group handled the shipment. (Google maps says the distance is 2432 km and the trip would take 26 hours by automobile, but that's probably optimistic given Chinese traffic conditions.)
The government departments intend to subsidize construction of warehouses, strengthen "organization" of rail transportation, and foster a group of grain logistics companies to facilitate the transportation of grain out of the northeastern provinces to the rest of the country.