Global agribusiness and food company Bunge and Saudi Arabia’s national shipping arm, Bahri Group, have agreed to form an ocean freight joint supplier for dry bulk import and export flows in and out of the Middle East region, the companies announced on 22 February.

The joint venture between subsidiaries Bahri Dry Bulk Company (BDB) and Koninklijke Bunge BV would operate under the name Bunge Bahri Dry Bulk Ltd and provide exclusive freight transportation services to regional and other international customers.

The company plans to ship over 5M tonnes in year one, ramping up volume over time to double-digit figures, with BDB and Bunge owning 60/40% respectively of the joint venture. It will charter and commercially operate Supramax, Panamax or other suitably sized dry bulk vessels, initially from the fleet currently owned or managed by BDB and subsequently from third parties.

"Bunge is excited to partner with BDB to strengthen our presence in the Middle East," said Brian Thomsen, managing director, Bunge Global Agribusiness and CEO, Bunge Product Lines. "We expect the joint venture to become a carrier of choice for customers importing grains and other agricultural commodities in the Middle East, as well as for dry bulk exports outside of the region. The joint venture combines Bunge's expertise in providing freight services and risk management with BDB's unique knowledge of Middle Eastern customers and their needs."

"This joint venture is one of BDB's initiatives to reduce complexity for our customers along the value chain,” said Bahri CEO Ibrahim Al-Omar. “Working with a leading global player in commodity trading brings the necessary commercial and market intelligence to dry bulk supply and demand fundamentals, and Bunge brings crucial expertise and scale to the table."

BDB is a 60/40 joint venture between the Bahri Group and Arabian Agricultural Services Company, a leading bulk carrier in Saudi Arabia specialising in the transport of grain, coal, barley and other dry bulk cargoes.

The Bahri Group operates six business units that include oil, chemicals, logistics, dry bulk, ship management and data. It is the world’s second largest owner of Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), and the largest owner of chemical tankers in the Middle East. It currently owns 84 vessels, including 37 VLCCs, 36 chemical/product tankers, six multi-purpose vessels and five dry bulk carriers, with an additional nine VLCCs on order.