Edmonton will stuff them and Rupert will ship them, which in short is what is planned for the containerization of specialty grain shipments once the port is up and running.
With the container port on track to its opening next fall, the grain industry is making plans to make use of the latest connection to the world through Prince Rupert.
CN has announced the opening of the Edmonton Grain Distribution Centre which will make it easier for specialty crop growers to ship their product to the world.
The Daily News featured the news on its front page on Monday.
RUPERT SET TO REAP BENEFIT FROM NEW GRAIN CENTRE
Facility in Edmonton ensures containers return to Asia with Canadian content
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Monday, November 20, 2006
Pages one, three and five
A new $4 million specialty grain stuffing facility will help fill the empty containers going back through the Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal.
CN announced the opening of its Edmonton Grain Distribution Centre last week. The new facility will make it easier and more cost-effective for specialty crop growers on the western prairies to ship their high-value grains and oilseeds in containers to overseas customers. CN invested $4 million in the facility, which is expected to handle 20,000 containers per year.
Doug Hayden-Luck, sales director for International Intermodal, CN Rail, explained that “importing something is really only part of the story. When you look at ocean carriers, it’s a two way haul.”
Hayden-Luck was a speaker at the recent Change Brings Opportunity Conference in Prince Rupert. He said there’s a huge need to fill the empty containers moving back through to Asian markets and CN has done an analysis of ways to fill those containers, at stops throughout North America. One way is the new specialty grain terminal in Edmonton.
“Fifty per cent of these boxes are going back empty. If we can marginally change that… it’s a huge advantage for ocean carriers.”
Previously, western prairie farmers had to first load their high-value crops into covered hopper cars and send the cars to Vancouver, where they are emptied and the grain transferred into containers. The stuffed containers are then trucked to dockside, for loading onto ships.
Now, these grains, grain products and oilseeds can be transferred from the farm truck directly into containers at the new Edmonton facility, removing an entire step in the logistics chain for many shippers. Farmers from outside the Edmonton region will have the option to move their products by rail car to Edmonton, and transferring the grain at the new facility.
“There are lots of opportunities. The question is how you get at it,” said Hayden-Luck.
“We have to create a virtual back haul market.”
Based on analysis of where producing facilities are and where CN can load containers, the rail company has worked with crop producers to develop the new stuffing facility, said Hayden-Luck.
And it’s an opportunity for the new Fairview Container Terminal when it gets up and running,” he said.
“These are the types of things we are looking to put our money into to build facilities, “he said. “We are open for business.
While the facility will serve Vancouver in its early stages, beginning in the fall of 2007, containers will begin to move to the new container terminal now being built in Prince Rupert. This will give western Canada’s farmers yet another outlet to world markets. And, CN will continue to service the existing Vancouver based container stuffing services, preserving that shipping option.
Most Western Canadian grain moves from the prairies in bulk hopper cars. Increasing percentages of higher-value, human consumption specialty crops, such as lentils, beans, and peas, as well as processed grain products such as malt and alfalfa pellets, are now moving overseas in containers. Grain shippers like using the containers for their higher-value products because this allows them to segregate their product from lower-value bulk grains, thereby ensuring they receive higher prices. Shippers are also able to meet customer requirements for strict product identification, especially important for human foods, also helping the capture higher prices.
CN has also looked at facilities to handle recycled paper as well as forest products from the Prince George region.
According to a new report released earlier this month. Prince George has a massive opportunity to build an intermodal container facility that would capitalize on backhaul in forest products.
Major forestry producers would be able to send their goods overseas on the cheap. The Northern B. C. Container Terminal Opportunity Study notes 790,068 mfbm (thousand board feet) of lumber could be sent to Japan/. 108,428 mfbm of lumber could go to other East Asian countries, 262,107 tonnes of pulp could enter Japanese markets and another 589,784 tonnes could go to China.
This would provides a capacity of 60,000 container loads of B. C. forest products alone, or three times the number of containers usually required for an intermodal facility to be economically viable.
“This study clearly identifies the competitive advantages of establishing an intermodal cargo centre in Prince George, and what opportunities that would bring for Northern British Columbia,” said Colin Kinsley, Prince George Mayor. “We often thought what role we will play with increased traffic that will come to North America through Prince Rupert.