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  • Unconventional Ag

Port Metro Vancouver Set to Break Grain Movement Records

Port Metro Vancouver moved record volumes of grain last year, and is set to break more records this year barring any unforeseen weather issues or logistic disruptions. In the first nine months of the 2013/14 crop year, Vancouver funneled over 13 million tons of grain through its port, or 61% of the entire system’s throughput, according to Quorum Corporation, the agency tasked with tracking grain movement.

Despite record grain movements and systems generally being in balance, supply chain problems causing vessel line-ups and anchorage space are still concerns. During the first nine months of the 2013/14 crop year, vessels waited an average of 19.1 days in port at Vancouver, with the third quarters seeing the longest average wait times of 25.1 days, causing the port to deny anchorage and forcing vessels to anchor off of Vancouver Island. This in turn created extra costs in the supply chain as vessels had to hire pilots twice and move longer distances. Currently, typical wait times are 12 – 24 days and vessel line-ups are 15 – 20 vessels.

Quorum’s latest report indicates that export movements still are not keeping up with demand as railways are not able to supply capacity, with some grain terminals at Vancouver half empty at the busiest time of the year.

Coordinating vessels and rail delivery seems to be the most difficult hurdle since the elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board single desk. Instead of one body handling all logistics, there are several grain companies and supply chains trying to work within two railways. However, the impressive grain volume throughput is evidence that these issues are being overcome.

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