Ocean freight rates for shipping bulk grain have fallen for the last three weeks.

As of Jan. 27, 2022, the rate for shipping a metric ton (mt) of grain from the U.S. Gulf to Japan was $62.50 — 11% less than this year’s first available rate on Jan. 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. The Pacific Northwest-to-Japan rate was $34.50 — 11% less than on Jan. 6.

The dip in the ocean rates reflects the typical seasonal dip in vessel demand amid various holidays. According to the Jan. 20, 2022, Transportation and Export report, from O’Neil Commodity Consulting, the Dry Bulk Index — the average prices paid for transporting dry bulk materials — is down 70% from February 2021.

The dip in vessel demand and ocean rates is expected to persist, with the Chinese Lunar Year, at least into the first week of February, the USDA said. As of Jan. 27, 2022, an average of 35 vessels were loaded per week in the U.S. Gulf, compared to 42 during the same period in 2021, according to the Feb. 3 USDA Grain Transportation Report.