Port terminals and supply chain partners at Canada’s largest port demonstrated stability and reliability over a challenging period—keeping trade moving and supporting Canadians and their businesses.
Vancouver, B.C.: Cargo volumes through the Port of Vancouver increased by 6% in 2023, as terminal operators and supply chain partners moved a record 150.4 million metric tonnes (MMT) of trade.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s 2023 cargo statistics, released today, show it was a mixed year at the Port of Vancouver, with growth in some sectors and softening in others. Notably, bulk and containerized exports, auto imports and cruise all grew—including near-record grain exports—while container imports softened in line with trends seen across the West Coast.
“We know reliable access to international markets is vital for Canadian exports and Canadian businesses—supporting jobs, investment and economic activity from coast to coast. I want to acknowledge the resilience of Port of Vancouver terminal operators and supply chain partners, as they moved record volumes of trade in 2023 against a challenging backdrop to support Canadians and their jobs and businesses,” said Peter Xotta, president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the federal agency mandated with enabling Canadian trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. 
Almost as much cargo moved through the Port of Vancouver in 2023 as moved through Canada’s next five largest ports combined, while the port handled North America’s most diversified range of cargo—including bulk, containers, breakbulk and automobiles, as well as overseeing cruise.
“In 2023, we saw operations at the Port of Vancouver support a 12% increase in export volumes and enable trade with 142 different countries, including delivering a near-record Prairie grain harvest to world markets,” Xotta continued. “The record cargo and export volumes moved last year demonstrate that one of the port’s key strengths and competitive advantages continues to be its diversification—both in terms of the commodities it can handle and the countries it connects to.”
Trade last year was affected by a number of global and domestic challenges, including a cooling global economy, geo-political issues such as disruptions to the Panama Canal and Red Sea trade routes, and a strike that affected container, bulk, breakbulk and auto terminals at Port of Vancouver. The recovery from July’s 13-day strike by B.C. longshore workers—which directly impacted operations throughout the port aside from a few areas including cruise and bulk grain—was both steady and challenging, with fluidity largely restored in the fall.
Bulk exports increased 13% in 2023, compared to 2022, to reach a record 91.5 MMT—including increases in grain, sulphur, coal and petroleum product volumes. Nine bulk grain terminals at the port helped to export 14.7 MMT of wheat to 38 different countries, a 52% year-over-year increase, while canola exports increased 36% to 7.0 MMT and specialty crops grew 30% to 4.0 MMT. Canadian grain export volumes increased sharply in 2023 because a bumper crop season was preceded by a drought-affected season.   
  • Overall cargo was a record 150.4 MMT, up 6% compared to 2022. The previous record cargo volume moved by Port of Vancouver terminals was 147.1 MMT in 2018. In 2022, port terminals handled 141.4 MMT.
  • Export volumes were up 12% year-over-year at a record 102.3 MMT, including bulk exports increasing by 13% to hit a record 91.5 MMT
  • Dry bulk increased 11% to 99.8 MMT—led by increases in grain (39%), sulphur (11%) and coal (7%). Potash volumes were down 11% compared to 2022, at 8.9 MMT.
  • Liquid bulk increased 7% to 9.8 MMT, with petroleum products growing 12% while canola oil was down 7%
  • Container volumes at the Port of Vancouver decreased 12% to 3.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEU. Imports (laden inbound) decreased 13% to 1.6 million TEU, while exports (laden outbound) increased 7% to 755,000 TEU. Empty container volumes were down 24% at 770,000 TEU.
  • Cruise vessel calls increased 8% to 332, with a record 1.24 million passenger visits (up 53% compared to 2022)
  • Breakbulk volumes decreased 7% to 18.5 MMT, with foreign breakbulk down 25% to 2.0 MMT