The first half of 2023 has seen a reported 11% growth in total cargo moving through the Port of Vancouver with bulk cargoes representing 55.5 million tonnes of the 75.9 million tonnes that were shipped. In particular it has been grain cargoes that have seen the most substantial increases moving through the port from last year to this one.
Grain exports have more than doubled in the first 6 months of 2023, with 16.36 million tonnes shipped, up from 7.94 million tonnes over the same time period in 2022. Wheat accounted for 7.86 million tonnes (up 144%), or nearly half of the volume moved through the port, with canola coming in a distant second at 3.81 million tonnes (up 124%). Exported specialty crops also saw a significant boost during this period with 2.57 million tonnes (up 67%) being shipped.
The sharp increases to these numbers reflect the relative bumper crop from the Canadian Prairies in 2022 and their recovery from drought conditions the previous year.
Expected shipments for the second half of 2023 are however a little uncertain, given the expected smaller crop. Statistics Canada estimates Canadian farmers harvested 83.87 million tonnes of grain, oilseeds, pulses and special crops for 2023, a 13% decline from the previous year.
Exports of potash and fertilizers remained stable in the first six months of 2023. Volumes for potash were down about 6% over the first six months of 2022, while sulphur was up by 20%.
Inbound container traffic at the port fell 17% in the first half of 2023 compared to a year ago, however there was a 27% drop in empty containers heading out of the port and a 14% increase in loaded container exports from Vancouver.