In 2015, Brazil's so-called Northern Arc of ports — Itacoatiara (AM), Santare´m and Vila do Conde (PA), Itaqui (MA) and Salvador (BA) — boosted exports of soya and wheat by 54%. In total, they reported handling 20mt (million tonnes).

According to Marcelo Cabral, the director of Infrastructure and Logistics at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Supply (MAPA), just five years ago, these ports accounted for 8% of the total amount of soya and wheat that was exported; now, the figure has risen to 20%.

He explains that by using these northern and north-eastern ports, overall distances have been reduced from the production areas in the mid-West, cutting logistics costs by around $50 per tonne. Cabral also stresses that they have helped relieve pressure on ports in the south and south-east, such as Santos and Paranagua´.

For all of 2015, exports of soya and wheat amounted to 100mt in Brazil. Of this, Santos accounted for 30mt last year, up from 27mt the year before. Growth at Paranagua´ was less dramatic, up from 17mt to 18mt.