UPDATE 1-Canada grain handlers to expand as crops overwhelm system

Thu Apr 10, 2014 12:46pm EDT
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(Recasts with background on large crops. Adds CWB and Viterra expansion announcements)

By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 10 (Reuters) - Three Canadian grain handlers said this week that they will expand facilities to handle the country's crops, after a record-smashing harvest overwhelmed the transportation system.

Viterra, owned by Glencore Xstrata PLC, said on Thursday it will spend C$100 million ($92 million) to boost grain shipping through Port Metro Vancouver, while CWB, formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board, said it is building a second Western Canadian grain elevator.

Global commodities trader Cargill Ltd said on Wednesday that it would expand an elevator site in Manitoba.

The moves come as the country's grain handlers and railways have struggled to move a record harvest to port, causing a massive backlog.

Last year's 76-million tonne Western Canadian crop was larger than expected due to nearly ideal weather during the growing season. But with seed technology companies developing crop varieties to produce bigger yields, the industry expects harvests to trend higher over the long term.

Viterra said it will modernize its Pacific Terminal at the country's busiest port to increase grain shipping and storage.

"Our goal is to create the most efficient port terminal in Canada with unprecedented capability for processing a diverse range of commodities," said Kyle Jeworski, Viterra's chief executive for North America.   Continued...