By Gus Trompiz
PARIS (Reuters) - Senalia, operator of France's largest grain export terminal, aims to load 4.6 million tonnes of cereals in the 2022/23 season to June 30, up nearly 14% from 2021/22, supported by Chinese demand and war disruption to Black Sea trade, it said on Friday.
France is the European Union's biggest grain supplier and its brisk wheat shipments have contributed to higher overall EU wheat exports so far this season.
Between July and December, Senalia loaded 2.4 million tonnes of cereals at Rouen port, up 11% compared with the same period last season, Chief Executive Gilles Kindelberger said during a company presentation.
France, like other EU exporting countries, attracted extra demand at the start of the season after Russia's invasion of Ukraine hit Black Sea shipments.
Flows from Russia and Ukraine have since recovered, though, helped by the creation of a wartime grain corridor from Ukrainian ports.
After mostly shipping wheat in the first half of the season, Senalia expected barley to drive its activity for the rest of 2022/23, with increasingly competitive French barley prices winning sales from China, Kindelberger later told reporters.
One vessel has just loaded around 40,000 tonnes of barley in Rouen for China, port data showed.
Senalia was achieving high loading volumes despite dredging problems in the Seine river at Rouen, which had reduced by around 10,000 tonnes the maximum that could be loaded this season on large panamax vessels, he added.
Senalia loaded 4.05 million tonnes of cereals in the previous 2021/22 season, it said.
Among its other products, Senalia is expecting a recovery in volumes handled at its sugar silo this season. Tonnage was more than halved in 2021/22 after Saint Louis Sucre, a unit of Germany's Suedzucker, ended a partnership.
A new partnership with French sugar group Tereos, which will use the silo for export and domestic markets, will see its first full season after starting in late 2021, Kindelberger said.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Tomasz Janowski)