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Superior port braces for historic Western harvest

Grain activity up 26 per cent this year due to pandemic-influenced global demand
Frontenac Viterra A
(Thunder Bay Port Authority photo)

Demand for Western Canadian grain in the face of the global pandemic remains strong as evidenced by cargo numbers through the Port of Thunder Bay.

The port authority said the year-to-date grain tonnage through the Lake Superior port is 26 per cent higher - at 961,419 tonnes - than in 2019.

More than 4.2 million tonnes have transitted the port so far in 2020, compared to more than 3.35 million tonnes last year. July grain shipments were 100,000 tonnes higher than during the same month last year.

The trend is expected to continue into the fall.

The authority said Western farmers are preparing to harvest one of the top five largest crops in Canadian history, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's most recent outlook.

Both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway recently announced added investments in their hopper car fleets to accommodate the anticipated larger harvests expected long term, stemming from longer growing seasons out West.

The port authority also reported a rise last month in dry bulk shipments - road salt and aggregate - with 74,416 tonnes registered in July compared to 49,900 tonnes recorded during the same period in 2019.

By way of ship activity, 73 foreign-flagged vessels took on cargo in Thunder Bay this year, compared to 47 last year.