Growth spurs new business in Timaru region

SANDIE FINNIE
Last updated 06:15 05/03/2014
jeremy boys
PrimePort Timaru chief executive Jeremy Boys

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Agricultural growth in South Canterbury and ongoing developments at PrimePort Timaru has attracted a multinational feedstock company to establish a presence in the region.

Toepfer Stockfeed operates out of 36 countries and trades 53 million tonnes of stockfeed annually and its first consignment of feedstuff arrives at the port of Timaru soon. This builds on other well established stockfeed suppliers who are already based at Timaru.

PrimePort went through upheavals following the withdrawal two years ago of shipping lines Maersk and Hamburg Sud and their container services.

The withdrawals also worried farmers and exporters reliant on container shipping services.

Since then South Canterbury's agribusiness sector has revitalised with the replacement service by MSC container shipping service and more recently following an alliance between Port Tauranga and PrimePort.

Long term this move will enable agribusinesses to explore new opportunities for containerised exports, extend market reach with trade centralised in one area, and importantly, provides security for reciprocal trade.

The port is both a gateway into the region for increasing volumes of fertilisers, stock feeds, fuels and agricultural products, including two way trade for the Chatham Island, and a portal out for exporters of vegetables, meat, tallow, wool, fruits, flowers, fish, small seeds, live heifers and logs.

PrimePort chief executive Jeremy Boys said he also hoped the changes at the port would encourage Fonterra to use their services sometime. Fonterra Clandeboye currently sends all its product to Port Lyttelton.

Mr Boys is upbeat about the growth and the symbiotic relationship with agriculture considered the "bedrock of the region", although the port administrators are mindful of the environmental pressures farmers now face around public expectations and the importance of water in so far as these factors underpin port business.

Port of Tauranga through its fully owned subsidiary TCT will manage the container business and leverage increasing service for the rural sector. Mr Boys envisaged that future goals around the port's core, breakbulk service, subsidised through the alliance, will include greater efficiencies for all agribusiness along with new measures to improve on environmental performances. Growth and environmental performance were aspirations for the port.

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There is a level of prosperity in South Canterbury, Mr Boys believed stems from the diverse agriculture and horticulture sector and dairy's large footprint and the industries that service it.

Imports of fertiliser were around 170,000 tonnes for the past few years. "Fertilisers, when we look at the data for the last three years, throughput has been steady, and our projections are it will increase, but this will be balanced by the community desire for management of environmental resources," he said.

Log exports are a mainstay of trade and plans to expand the existing log yard from 4ha to 6ha of storage will maximise efficiency for log suppliers. Log exports normally hover around 260,000 to 290,000 tonnes where as this year they may reach over 500,000 tonnes.

Log volume is up at present because of a strong market but also the need to clear surplus forest after last year's windstorm damage.

- Straight Furrow

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