As container capacity tightens, Canadian lumber companies return to breakbulk market for exports to rapidly growing Chinese market; China has 'insatiable' appetite for Canadian lumber, other goods, says Vancouver port VP

LOS ANGELES , May 30, 2011 () – As container capacity tightens, Canadian lumber companies are returning to the breakbulk market for shipping their product to the rapidly expanding Chinese market, The Journal of Commerce reported May 27.

Currently, four Canadian lumber companies have chartered an Italian-owned 36,826-deadweight ton breakbulk ship for a minimum of one year.

The lumber market gains have been "massive," according to Rob Fischer, CEO of Loadline Forest Carriers, the management company representing the four lumber companies. Loadline expects to charter a second breakbulk ship, Fischer said, but no timeline was given for when the second breakbulk would be hired.

In recent years, the industry had moved away from breakbulk ships to containerships, but is now finding that China’s ever-growing appetite for Canadian lumber and thin capacity in the container market are driving them back to breakbulk.

The growth in container traffic through the Vancouver port has seen an equal increase in imports and exports in the first quarter, rising 8% and 10%, respectively. The balance means tight supply, according to Chris Badger, vice president of operations at Port Metro Vancouver.

China has an "insatiable" appetite for lumber as well as other Canadian goods that include metals, energy, fertilizer and agricultural goods, Badger said.

China has also replaced Japan as Canada’s leading trade partner through the port in Vancouver, Badger added.

The export of lumber through Vancouver, Canada’s largest port, to Asia jumped 32% to 3.33 million tonnes in 2010, The Journal of Commerce noted.

The primary source of this article is The Journal of Commerce, Newark, New Jersey, May 27, 2011.

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