BC’s Port of Vancouver Sees Mid-Year Trade Growth, But Softer Container Volumes

The Port of Vancouver’s South Shore. File photo via Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

During the first half of 2023, the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia showed an 11% growth in trade compared to the same time period in 2022, but softer container volumes, according to new data released Sept. 25 by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

The port reported a 14% decrease in overall container volumes to 1.6 million TEUs in the first half of 2023 versus the same time period in 2022, a reflection of a softening economy. Imports fell about 18%, while exports rose 14%, according to port data.

Meanwhile, grain, auto and cruise businesses drove trade growth at the seaport, which handled 75.9 million metric tons (MMT) in the first half of this year, better than the 68.6 MMT handled in the first half of 2022.

This is the second biggest mid-year cargo MMT in the port’s history, eclipsing the 2021 record of 76.4 MMT, according to the Port Authority.

Auto business also rose by nearly a third, while the cruise business saw 82% more passengers and 13% more vessel calls, according to the port.

Grain made a big impact on cargo numbers, posting a 106% spike from the first year of 2022 to the first half of 2023 because last year’s crop season was affected by drought.

This resulted in a 121% jump in bulk grain and 28% rise in containerized grain, while canola rose 124% and bulk specialty crops such as lentils jumped 89%.

The port also saw heightened wheat exports to Africa, adding to the 144% increase in bulk wheat.

“Coming off a challenging year, we’ve seen drops in some sectors, reflecting a softening economy, and encouraging rebounds in other key commodities such as grain, auto and cruise,” Port Authority CFO and Interim President and CEO Victor Pang said. “The 2023 mid-year statistics reinforce the foundational strength of being North America’s most diversified port and a testament to the outstanding efforts of the port community.”

By Karen Robes Meeks