Port of Vancouver boasts back-to-back cargo traffic records

Port handled 147 million tonnes of cargo in 2018; imports rose by nearly 10% over 2017

The Port of Vancouver handled a second consecutive year of record-setting cargo volumes in 2018.

New Vancouver Fraser Port Authority numbers released today (February 28) show the port managed 147 million tonnes of cargo last year, up 3.5% from 2017.

Import tonnage rose by 9.8% to reach nearly 31.5 million tonnes, while exports climbed 1.9% to more than 115 million tonnes.

Container volume also rose 4.4% year-over-year to reach a record 3.4 million TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units. Full container units increased by 3%.

The port authority attributes its activity growth to growing Canadian trade. It also says Vancouver’s port manages the most diversified range of cargo of any port in North America.

“One dollar in three of Canada’s trade beyond North America goes through the port in Vancouver. In response to the volatile situations we’re seeing, the federal government has I think quite logically been very actively pursuing a trade diversification strategy," said Robin Silvester, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, adding that the port is starting to see some signs of China choosing to buy more Canadian goods in light of China-imposed tariffs on a range of American goods.

“This year’s results really just highlight the strength of the growth that we’re seeing.”

A number of commodities set records of their own last year, including canola (+2.1%), potash (+27.5%) and barley (+48%).

Other standouts include a nearly 24% rise in animal and vegetable oils, fats and waxes. In petroleum products, aviation and jet fuel (+30.5%), diesel and fuel oils (44.3%) and crude petroleum (+67.5%) posted significant year-over-year gains.

Aside from logs (+15.2%) and paper and paperboard (+7.8%), the port handled less tonnage for all other forestry products, including lumber (-8.7%), woodchips (-11.7%) and waste paper (-33%).

Cruise passengers passing through the port rose by 5.5% year-over-year. The port welcomed 889,162 passengers in 2018 on 241 cruise ship visits.