BUNGE Australia farewelled its first grain shipment from Bunbury last Saturday.
The 18,000 tonne wheat cargo was aboard the DL Lavender bound for a Cebu flour mill in the Philippines.
Following the recent bad weather and a few small mechanical issues, coupled with the fact the DL Lavender failed survey before entering the port, the outbound voyage was a week later than expected.
But Bunge met its target to have the first shipment on course by the middle of 2014 as stipulated at the time of building its Bunbury facility.
Bunge Australia general manager Chris Aucote said despite a few minor commissioning hiccups the vessel was loaded and the woodchip loader used to do so worked.
Overall he said he was extremely happy with how it went.
"Any commissioning process is never 100 per cent smooth sailing," Mr Aucote said.
"There are always going to be some minor modifications made along the way."
He confirmed there were a few problems getting the boat into Bunge's dolphin berth before loading.
"The boat failed survey which was nothing to do with us," he said.
"Completing the facility was really a key priority and the loading of the boat ticks the last box in regards to commissioning the facility."
Mr Aucote said in the upcoming months, Bunge would focus heavily on buying more grain to put through the terminal next year - some of which would also make its way to Cebu.
"We send a fair bit of wheat to this mill in Cebu and it's a very good customer of Bunge's," he said.
"The miller actually came out and visited our Bunbury facility when it was being built.
"There will absolutely be more opportunities for more WA grain to go there in coming years."
Reflecting on this year's accumulations task, Mr Aucote said Bunge had acquired grain from the entire span of its intended Wagin-Narrogin-Lake Grace-Lake King-Katanning catchment area (including Kondinin).
"We've probably seen more come in from the eastern part of the regions because there are more on-farm storage facilities in those locations," he said.
"At the moment there isn't much storage throughout the historical wool belt but with time that has the ability to change."
Mr Aucote said growers would watch Bunge very closely this year to see how well it performed.
He said hopefully growers were starting to see the benefits of what having Bunge at Bunbury meant for competition in the WA grain space, including competitive freight rates to port.
The sailing of the DL Lavender marks the end of CBH's control over WA grain exports, which saw the co-operative close its doors on the Bunbury port in the 1980s due to accumulation issues.
Bunge hopes to export up to 500,000t in its first two years of operation.
Its $40 million Bunbury site houses 50,000t of capacity and will utilise road networks to bring in its annual harvest accumulations, largely from large on-farm storage systems throughout WA's grainbelt.