October was a good month for the Port of Duluth-Superior.  The year-to-year October numbers were up significantly for the local shipping industry.

October 2021 finished up 11.5% higher than October 2020 - with recorded cargo of almost 3.3 million short tons, according to details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall].  But the good news doesn't stop there.

Looking at the season as a whole, the news continues to be good.  The Port of Duluth-Superior has "imported and exported a total of 26 million short tons of cargo".  That number places 2021 2.5% ahead of the rolling five year average and 33% ahead of the same time frame in 2021;  however, that number needs to be looked at through the filter of COVID-19 as all shipping traffic was slowed down due to the virus in 2020.

The ship Stewart J. Cort on Lake Superior outside the Superior shipping entry
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

The Telegram drilled down the local cargo tonnage based on specific industry - with some gains and some losses, depending on what category you're looking at:

  • Iron:  A "recovered" Northland steel industry saw 16.4 million tons moved - or 16% ahead of the rolling five year average
  • Grain:  Shipments were down in October, and for the year as a whole.  Grain was off 50% in October when looking at the same month last year; overall shipments were down 46% when compared to last year.
  • Coal: Shipments of coal saw both wins and losses for the Port of Duluth-Superior.  While shipments were down 11% in October when compared to the same month in 2020, the "year-to-date total for coal stands at nearly 6 million short tons, a 57% increased compared to the same time period last year."

Overall, the outlook for the local shipping industry has been good in 2021.  Analysts look forward to more positive news in 2021.

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