New grain exporter hopes for port of Albany
New grain exporter hopes for port of Albany

Western Australia’s newest grain exporter hopes its entry into the market will spur port expansion and bring more buyers to the Albany region.

The Richardson family’s Commodity Ag company this week began exporting grain from the general use berth at the Port of Albany, using a leased mobile ship loader and the company’s 21,000-ton storage terminal on the outskirts of the city.

Commodity Ag is WA’s fourth grain export facility operator and the first to enter the market since Esperance Quality Grains in 2018.

Preparations for the move have taken five years and the Richardsons have spent the last two years overcoming all the necessary compliance hurdles to build their export business.

Mr Richardson said vertical integration would enable Commodity Ag to capitalise on opportunities lost in the current supply chain.

“The supply chain will potentially bring more buyers into the zone, provide additional capacity for peak periods or high tonnage years, and serve markets that require identity preservation and other niche requirements,” he said.

“(Berth two) needs to be modernised and hopefully the additional trading that Commodity Ag provides will help to enable this in the future.

“After establishing the grain program, Commodity Ag will look for opportunities to expand its infrastructure with a multi-commodity approach in the future.”

Mr Richardson said the company also had a critical minerals supply chain on its radar.

Southern Ports Acting Managing Director Monica Birkner said she was pleased to see new trade agreements emerging in southern Western Australia.

“Last year we negotiated nine new trade agreements and licenses for bulk export customers such as Commodity Ag, as well as new general cargo trade in our ports,” she said.

“This includes working with Commodity Ag to enable the exporter to utilize the capacity of our multi-user berth at our Port of Albany to export grain using its mobile vessel loading infrastructure.

“Our team, as with all prospective trade clients, has worked closely with Commodity Ag to ensure we are well positioned to help the exporter achieve their trade goals by managing security compliance, infrastructure and logistics requirements.”

The Princess Royal Harbour Master Plan 2023 includes improvements to reduce congestion, improve shared use infrastructure and increase dry bulk storage by the end of the decade.

In the longer term, the port’s wood chip export terminal is expected to be converted by 2050.

The Richardsons are a fifth generation farming family with 21,300 hectares of extensive farmland around Gnowangerup in the Great Southern.

Their company, Commodity Ag, operates farms, a feedlot, a trucking fleet and the Duraquip heavy-duty trailer manufacturing facility.

The Albany company’s first export is a 23,000-ton shipment of wheat to Indonesia.

By Everly