France’s no. 2 port for the export of grains
With a rich cereal-growing hinterland, Port Atlantique La Rochelle and its operators, the Sica Atlantique Group and Socomac - Soufflet Group, have developed together a strategy of regular and continuous growth for the sector, which relies on operational know-how and high quality water and rail access.
Benefiting from a position in the market of the 3rd largest cereal-growing region in France (Source: Agreste récolte 2018), a wide range of cereal products such as soft and hard wheat, corn, barley for brewing or fodder, sunflower, rape, and alfalfa pass through the Port. Produce from this region is renowned for its quality on the export market. This recognition, combined with the development of high-volume pre-shipment by rail, gives French cereal producers access to a market with higher added value.
In 2019, the overall tonnage of to and fro rail traffic was made up of 87% grains. 62% of grain traffic was handled by Fret SNCF and 38% by OuestRail.
The 2019 tonnage of cereals and oilseeds amounts to 4,139,086 tonnes or 42% of the Port's total traffic, an increase of 5% compared to 2018.
A leading port on the Atlantic seaboard, and 2nd largest French port exporting cereal products, the Port regularly exports to the Maghreb, the Middle East and West Africa. There has also been an increase in intra-Community traffic, particularly to Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
These remarkable results are the fruit of the complementary nature of its two operators, one private, Socomac - Soufflet Group, and the other cooperative, Sica Atlantique Group, who regularly invest in increasing their capacity and modernising their production tools.
In March 2018, Socomac - Soufflet Group inaugurated a new dockside silo. It has a storage capacity of 63,000 tonnes, increasing the Group's storage capacity at La Pallice to 188,000 tonnes. Thanks to this €32 million investment, Socomac - Soufflet Group has increased its capacity from 1,600,000 tonnes of cereals exported to 2,000,000 tonnes.
For its part, Sica Atlantique Group has invested in a new grainoduc, with two enclosed conveyor belts, aimed at increasing shipping outputs and absorbing logistical jolts. The grainoduc was commissioned in two stages: the first conveyor belt in June 2018 and the second in August 2018.
The two operators have a combined total of 232 cells enabling precise blending to meet the most demanding specifications.
The Port of La Rochelle is the only one on the Atlantic seaboard to offer safe and fast deep-water access for Panamax-type vessels. Its loading berths dedicated to the cereal industry enable high loading rates of up to 2,500 tonnes/hour per berth (with two simultaneous gantry cranes, 1,000 and 1,500 t/hour).