Port of Vancouver paralyzed | A strike that is costing Olymel millions

Jul 24, 2023

Fresh frozen products that lose their value because they can no longer be exported and goods stuck on container ships. The impacts of the strike at the Port of Vancouver are felt as far away as Quebec, where they amount to “millions of dollars” at Olymel. And it’s not over if the impasse is not resolved.

Asia is an important market for the meat processor. Each week, approximately 1.5 million kilos of fresh produce – such as pork tenderloins and loins – leave its Quebec and Red Deer (Alberta) plants for countries such as Japan and South Korea.

With a 12th day of paralysis at ports in British Columbia, the Quebec company must begin to make difficult decisions: freezing fresh cuts to extend their life and limit damage.

“It’s now that we say to ourselves: ‘OK, we’re going to have to suspend these products for export,’” says its first vice-president, Paul Beauchamp, in a telephone interview with La Presse.

In Canada, the Port of Vancouver – the largest in the country – is the main gateway for containers imported from Asia. But it is also an important springboard for exporters. According to government data, Quebec exports 2.1 billion worth of pork annually. Around 63% of stocks are sold in China (46%) and Japan (17%).

This labor dispute, which is taking place some 4,600 kilometers west of Quebec, is also taking on the appearance of a “logistical headache” for Olymel. In addition to seeing the doors of its main export market closing temporarily, the subsidiary of Sollio Groupe Coopératif cannot help but turn to markets deemed “less lucrative” to sell its stocks.

“We don’t waste the product,” Beauchamp says. But we are moving from a premium market to containers filled with frozen products where customers have to be found. There are the United States, South America and Mexico, for example. Places where you can afford to have longer transport times. »

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