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New North Van grain terminal pushes exports to record high

Grain exports hit record

The volume of grain passing through the Port of Vancouver is through the roof in 2021, thanks in large part to a massive new North Shore export terminal that came online last year.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority released its mid-year cargo statistics on Thursday, showing that a record 18,730,982 tonnes of barley, canola, wheat and other crops moved through the port in the first half of the year – up 14 per cent from last year.

Although the amount of cargo handled by specific terminals is considered a trade secret, it’s no secret that G3’s new terminal came online in July 2020.

“A lot of it's actually about G3. It’s obviously a North Shore story,” said Robin Silvester, the port’s CEO. “It's all responding to that overall demand trend.”

In the last five to 10 years, agricultural firms have invested about $1 billion in export capacity around Vancouver, the largest being G3, Silvester said.

“I think they've now hit port records for rates of unloading rail cars and rates of loading ships so that the new technology they've invested in really is proving out very efficiently,” he said.

Because of droughts and heat waves bringing lower crop yields this year, the port is expecting possibly lower numbers next year, but as long as there is a growing global population to feed, and successful agriculture in Canada, Silvester said he expects grain exports to remain strong.

“There are a lot of fundamentals that are in our favour as a nation,” he said.

In previous years, some agricultural exports have been whipsawed in trade and diplomatic disputes, including bans on Canadian canola imports from China, wheat into Saudi Arabia and pulses and lentils going to India. But Silvester said the laws of supply and demand mean those disputes are usually short lived.

“It does seem that things might be a little calmer. That volatility south of the border is maybe not quite what it was a couple of years ago,” he said.



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