The Port of Vancouver smashed cargo records for the first half of 2021 with overall cargo volumes through Canada’s largest port hitting a record high of 76.4 million tonnes. That is up 7% from 2020 mid-year and 5% above 2019’s previous record.
Vancouver Fraser Port Authority president Robin Silvester said record grain volumes in the first half of the year demonstrate the continued growth in the global demand for Canadian agricultural products.
Silvester said he expected the surge after the slowdown early in the pandemic would have slowed by now.
“It really has just kept on going,” he said.
“Over many years, we have worked with partners to support the growth of the agricultural sector, and over the last decade there has been a very significant amount of investment in the port and the surrounding gateway by grain terminals, governments, railways, port customers and the port authority, with much of that investment."
Sectors experiencing strong growth included grain and containers, both hitting record highs in 2021.
Strong foreign demand for Canadian grain products resulted in record mid-year volumes of bulk grain, up 20% to 16.5 MMT compared with mid-year 2020 and up 35% from 2019.
Total foreign tonnage and foreign exports resulted in 60.3 MMT and 52.0 MMT, up 4%, respectively, compared with mid-year 2020 volumes, due to strong increases in grain and coal shipments.
Metallurgical coal increased 11%; thermal coal remained flat. In fertilizers, potash exports increased by 0.3% from last year and sulphur decreased by 20%.
Container quantities (measured by TEUs or 20-foot equivalent units) in 2021’s first half increased by 24% compared with mid-year 2020 to a record 1.9 million TEUs, 15% above the previous 2019 record set in 2019.
The port attributed that rise to the strengthening economy and the continued growth in global demand for Canadian products shipped in containers, and increased Canadian demand for Asian consumer and manufacturing goods.
However, the port has also seen a 115.3% increase in the number of empty containers leaving the port. That’s compared to an 81.7% drop in inbound TEUs.
Silvester said with holidays not an option during the pandemic, people have been spending on other goods, thus creating consumer demand for goods.