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Record year for overall cargo movement through the Port of Vancouver

March 1, 2018

Cargo diversity and strength of the Canadian economy boost annual volumes with new records in containers and bulk grain

Vancouver, B.C.: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority today released the 2017 year-end statistics for cargo through the Port of Vancouver. Overall cargo volume through the port reached a record high of 142.1 million tonnes, up five per cent from 2016. Sectors experiencing strong growth include containers and bulk grain, both of which hit new records in 2017.

“The record year for cargo movement and healthy growth across the port reflects the strength of the Canadian economy in 2017, as well as the Port of Vancouver’s ability to accommodate the most diversified range of cargo of any port in North America,” said Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Notably, overall container traffic (measured by TEUs or twenty-foot equivalent units) saw a significant increase of 11 per cent over 2016 to reach a record of 3.3 million TEUs, with loaded imports up by 11 per cent. Volumes were driven by a global upswing in economic activity, which boosted Canadian export sales and overall strength in the transpacific container market.

“Year over year we continue to see an increase in the global demand for Canadian products shipped in containers and Canadian demand for consumer and manufacturing goods from Asia,” continued Silvester. “To meet future demand, we are taking steps to ensure the Port of Vancouver is ready to handle growing container volumes through Canada’s West Coast. A number of investments in infrastructure are already underway in the port to build container capacity.”

Strong global demand for Canadian agriculture was met with a bumper harvest in Canada and increased exports of grain through the Port of Vancouver. Bulk grain saw another record year in 2017 at 23.6 million metric tonnes an eight per cent increase over 2016, making this the Port of Vancouver’s fourth consecutive year of record grain volumes.

The auto sector saw a nine per cent increase in 2017 from 2016, boosted by a record year for auto sales across Canada and an increase in consumer confidence. This is the third consecutive year of an upward trend in autos through the Port of Vancouver.

The breakbulk sector saw a two per cent increase over 2016 due to strong woodpulp exports and increased movement of domestic consumer goods along the Fraser River and between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

The cruise industry in Vancouver is experiencing stable growth as demand for cruises to Alaska continues to increase. In 2017, the port welcomed 236 cruise ships and 842,928 passengers compared to 826,820 passengers in 2016, an increase of two per cent.

“This record year is a success shared with all the port terminal operators, many of whom have made investments in infrastructure and technology that have increased the capacity of the Port of Vancouver, and with the many shippers and marine carriers whose continued confidence in the gateway we appreciate” added Silvester.

For more information


Overall cargo traded through the Port of Vancouver reached a new record of 142.1 million metric tonnes (MMT), posting a five per cent increase in tonnage compared to 2016.

Container quantities
Overall container units increased by 11.0 per cent in 2017, setting a new record of 3.3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). 2017 saw an 6.6 per cent increase in cargo-filled containers, setting a new record of 2.8 million TEUs.

Total cargo shipped in containers at 26.0 MMT,  increasing 3.9 per cent over the previous 2016 high of 25.1 MMT.

Bulk grain at 23.6 MMT, up 8.2 per cent over the previous 2016 high of 21.8 MMT.

  • Wheat and canola volumes increased by 7.9 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.
  • Animal Feed volumes were 1.2 million metric tonnes, an increase of 106.9 per cent, much of it destined to China and Vietnam.
  • Specialty crops volumes decreased by 4.0 per cent.

Auto volumes increased by 9.3 per cent compared to 2016, with 429,875 units moved through the port in 2017.

Breakbulk cargo at 16.6 MMT, up 2.4 per cent from 2016. Breakbulk forest product exports ended the year at 7.9 million metric tonnes, a 1.3 per cent increase against 2016. A 10.5 per cent increase in 2017 foreign breakbulk woodpulp exports, was a highlight in this category.

Bulk dry cargo at 89.6 MMT, up 5.9 per cent from 2016.

Bulk liquid tonnage at 9.4 MMT, up 1.4 per cent from 2016.

Foreign vessel calls increased 3.7 per cent to 3,219.

Cruise passengers increased 1.9 per cent with 842,928 passengers on 236 cruise ship visits for 2017.

About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada.

Media contact:

Emily Hamer
Manager, Strategic Communications

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