What Is Bulk Cargo? 

Bulk Cargo-All You Need to Know

Bulk cargo is a shipping phrase that refers to products that are shipped loose and unpackaged rather than in packaging or containers.

Bulk cargo is commodity cargo that is unpackaged in large quantities, isn’t containerized, and can’t be easily maintained on a ship. The bulk cargo consists of oil, grain, and coal.

Bulk cargo is divided into three categories: free-flowing, liquid, and dry. This shipment is usually dropped or poured onto a cargo vessel, railway car, or tanker truck as a liquid or solid.

Bulk Cargo Shipping Process

Bulk cargo shipping is carrying vast quantities of bulk cargo from one location to another, carried straight onto a shipping vessel.

Three steps are involved in cargo shipping: loading, unloading and storing.

The cost of break bulk cargo shipping is determined by four key elements, including the size and weight of the package, as well as the distance traveled.

Thousands of tons of bulk cargo are shipped around the world every day. Simple, everyday tasks like filling up our automobiles, pouring milk into our cereal, and seasoning our food would be challenging to accomplish if not for carriers that convey cement, grain, ore, steel, and coal. 

Break bulk cargo can be challenging to transport, but there are specially designed bulk carrier ships that can transport these commodities worldwide.

These advanced bulk vessels provide longevity, safety, efficiency, and capability, making up 21% of the world’s commerce fleets. These gigantic cargo ships, mainly employed to transport mineral ores, can carry up to 400,000 metric tons of deadweight. 

In this blog, we’ll explain what bulk cargo shipping is, how it works, and how it can benefit your company.

What Are Bulk Cargo Shipments?

These are shipments that are unpackaged and loaded directly into the shipping vessel. Bulk items are supplied loose and unpackaged, unlike other items shipped in discrete packages or containers.

To clarify, goods are divided into unitary or general cargo and bulk cargo. The whole load is counted in units, and unitary products are transported in packages or containers such as pallets, sacks, and TEU containers.

On the other hand, bulk cargo is carried in large quantities without packing or wrapping. As a result, the mode of transportation serves as a container, and the cargo is measured in volume or mass. 

Bulk shipping carries enormous quantities of cargo from one location to another, which is then loaded straight into a shipping vessel.

What Is Bulk Shipping and How Does It Work?

Break Bulk shipping works the same way whether you’re importing or exporting bulk material. It usually consists of three steps: unloading, storage, and loading.

When your bulk shipment arrives at its port, it is unloaded and transported to a bulk cargo storage facility, where you can arrange for its pickup and transportation.

When you’re exporting, you keep your cargo at a port storage facility until it can be transported and loaded onto a ship. By providing yourself plenty of time to load and depart your shipment, storing your cargo at the port saves you the stress of making a hasty, scheduled delivery.

Because the unloading, offloading, and storage of your cargo entail a lot of paperwork and rules, you’ll need to hire a customs broker to supervise it. You’ll also need to hire unloading, offloading, and storage services from various companies at the port to assist you with handling and to store your bulk cargo while it waits to be shipped. These businesses assist you in saving time and money by easing the complexities of bulk shipping.

What Items Can We Ship in Bulk Cargo?

Bulk cargo shipping can be used to transfer a variety of different items. These can be divided into two types: solid Bulk and liquid Bulk. Here, we mention two main types of bulk cargo.

Solid Bulk Goods

Dry bulk or dry cargo is another name for this type of material. The materials can be dispatched from the plant, field, mine, or original location of the material, and they can be stored using conveyor belts, cranes, hoppers, or silos. Grain (wheat, rice, barley, oats); minerals such as bauxite, copper, and limestone; chemicals such as resins, pellets, plastic granules, or fertilizers; and other goods such as salt and wood are examples of solid bulk cargo in dry bulk shipping.

These products are carried out utilizing dry bulk cargo carriers in the form of big dry Bulk carrier vessels built to handle solid bulk, consisting of a single running deck with many hatchways.

Liquid Bulk Goods

Any form of free-flowing, liquid material counts. These bulk items are loaded and unloaded via pumping stations and pipelines. Their transport necessitates the use of specialized liquid-holding tanks or deposits. 

Liquid Bulk includes chemicals like liquid nitrogen, natural gas, petroleum, cooking oils, and chilled commodities like milk or fruit juice. Tankers that transport these products in bulk are built with double hulls to enhance their superstructure. They are usually big boats with a deadweight capacity exceeding 400,000 tons.

Remember that liquid cargo may not be appropriate if you’re exporting smaller, individual shipments of these goods – or even prohibited or dangerous commodities. 

4 Factors That Influence Bulk Cargo Shipping Costs

The cost of bulk cargo shipping is determined by four key elements, including the size and weight of the package, as well as the distance traveled. However, prices can change based on market conditions, as seen in the previous section. The following are the four primary factors that influence bulk shipment expenses:

  1. Size and Weight: These are the two criteria that significantly impact shipping costs when combined. Every item being delivered will have a National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) number based on its weight and size, and you will be expected to provide the exact weight and size of your cargo.
  1. Freight Class: This considers factors such as density, the value of the shipment, the sensitivity of your items to damage, and the loadability and handling qualities of the product. Freight classification for fragile and valuable goods is frequently higher, resulting in higher freight costs.
  1. Dimensional Weight: This is a typical formula for calculating bulk cargo shipping costs considering the shipment’s density. The dimensional or gross weight, whichever is greater, may be used to calculate transportation fees. Dimensional weight, for example, will be applied to goods that do not weigh much but take up a lot of space.
  1. Distance: While distance traveled might impact bulk cargo shipping prices, rates rarely rise each mile. Instead, rates are calculated using a sophisticated algorithm that considers groups of sources, destinations, and the type of cargo. Depending on line-haul expenses and terminal prices for various transportation modes, per-mile bulk freight rates can sometimes decrease with distance.


Bulk shipping can be pretty helpful for industrial or agricultural commodities, but it isn’t for everyone; most e-Commerce retailers wouldn’t be able to use it. Don’t forget to contact us since DFreight is here to help you in your bulk cargo shipping process.


What does bulk cargo mean?

In bulk cargo, goods are transported in massive quantities and unpackaged.

How is break bulk cargo calculated?

Freight that has been unitized, palletized, or strapped is known as break bulk cargo. This cargo is measured along the total consignment’s longest, most comprehensive, and tallest dimensions. The shipment is weighed as well.

How is dry bulk cargo loaded and discharged?

Measuring and documenting the number of goods loaded is done automatically. Due to arm extension, the conveyor equipment links the “bucket” unloader, which “digs” into the ship bulk in the hold. This technique can be used for ore and coal commodities.

How does bulk cargo work?

Bulk shipments are a type of bulk shipping in which large amounts of products are put onto ships without being packaged.

How big is the bulk cargo barge?

In a single run, they can transport 6000 MT of goods. The entire length of these barges is 82.3 meters (270 feet), with a width and depth of 72 feet and 18 feet, respectively.

Source onlinelibrary.wiley
You might also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More