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‘Milestone’: ARIA AAAX Australia coordinates biggest wheat shipment to leave Esperance in more than five years

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Cally DupeCountryman
The MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia.
Camera IconThe MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia. Credit: Jaimen Hudson/Jaimen Hudson

One of WA’s newest bulk grain exporters is making waves in the State’s competitive grain-buying market after orchestrating the biggest wheat shipment to leave the Esperance Port in more than five years.

ARIA AAAX Australia shipped 72,264Mt of Australian Standard White wheat to Vietnam this month, on board the MV Star Bianca — a 228m-long bulk carrier chartered from German shipping company Oldendorff.

The vessel was this week en route to two ports in Vietnam, Phu My in South Vietnam and Cai Lan in North Vietnam.

Nearly 100 different Esperance farmers contributed grain to the shipment, which had seven holds and was loaded at CBH Group’s Esperance Grain Terminal in less than three days.

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The MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia.
Camera IconThe MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia. Credit: Jaimen Hudson/Jaimen Hudson

ARIA AAAX marketing and trading general manager James Foulsham said it was a milestone for the company, and marked the biggest shipment of wheat to leave the Esperance Port since May 2016. The shipment was just shy of the 72,600Mt record.

Chartering such a large vessel gave us a significant advantage on freight,” Mr Foulsham said.

“It saved us about 10 per cent compared to a 60,000Mt vessel and 20 per cent compared to a 50,000Mt vessel — which are two of the larger vessel sizes you commonly see from Esperance Port.”

It is ARIA AAAX’s second season of exporting bulk grain from WA, a joint venture set up specifically for Australian grain exports.

ARIA AAAX is a joint venture between locally-founded business Australian-Asian Agricultural Exports and global commodity fund ARIA Commodities, which specialises in commodity trade financing and more recently diversified into grain trading.

First founded in 2017, AAAX started out exporting containerised oats, lupins and other pulses to specialised markets before forming a joint venture with ARIA Commodities to form ARIA AAAX.

The MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia.
Camera IconThe MV Star Bianca at the Esperance Port, loaded with grain shipped by ARIA AAAX Australia. Credit: Cally Dupe/Countryman

It then inked a long term shipping capacity agreement with CBH Group in 2021.

Mr Foulsham said the company had experienced “great support” from Esperance farmers, with the Esperance Port Zone producing a healthy 4.2Mt of grain during the 2022-23 grain harvest.

That figure contributed to WA’s record 26Mt harvest, which smashed the prior record of 24.3Mt set in 2021-22.

“Esperance Port has been one of the best performing ports in Australia during the past few years,” Mr Foulsham said.

“We see it as a significant advantage being able to load such large vessels down there, with Kwinana being the only other port in WA that can take vessels of this size.”

ARIA AAAX was one of record 18 grain traders that signed up to export from CBH’s four ports in from October 1 2022 to September 30 2023, at a time when demand for Australian grain is strong on the back of the Russia-Ukraine war.

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