The lineup of ships to load sugar at Brazilian ports fell last week to 115 vessels from 135 a week ago as dry weather allowed the main ports of Santos and Paranagua to move cargo, shipping agents Unimar Agenciamentos Maritimos said.

Loading of bulk raw or VHP sugar in the two ports has been normal over the past week with drier weather.

“The weather has been good, both in Santos and Paranagua. This helped in the drop,” said Nicolle Alves de Castro at Santos Associados, the commercial arm of Unimar. “This is returning to a certain normalcy but there are still a lot of ships waiting off port.”

Rains interrupt loading of dry bulk agricultural commodities at Brazilian ports because they lack covered loaders to keep the ship holds from taking on water during heavy rain, which can hurt the quality of the cargo.

New York sugar futures have firmed since Aug. 10, supported by strong global demand and loading delays.

Brazil’s main center-south sugar cane crop is in the peak of a record harvest. Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugar.

Despite the massive lineup at the ports, shipments of sugar from Brazil set a record of 2.9 million tonnes for the month of July, well above the previous 2.55 million tons set in September 2009, trade data showed earlier in August.

At this time of year, ships tend to wait 15 days to load at the main ports, but some ships have to wait twice as long.

The current lineup of ships at Brazilian ports is expected to take away 3.4 million tonnes of sugar, compared with the 3.98 million tonnes estimated a week ago.

The exceedingly long lineups of ships waiting to load sugar are expected to return to normal levels by October. (Reuters)