Shipping Industry Trends Evidence Economically Efficient Return Trips for Dry Cargo


A trend is taking place with respect to overseas shipping and dry bulk cargo ships, one that has large scale importers adopting the use of container ships over dry bulk carriers.

By apt definition, a “dry bulk carrier” is a shipping vessel contrary to liquid carriers which are built to transport the likes of oil, chemicals, or liquefied petroleum gas. Dry bulk cargo ships are frequently used for agricultural commodities, traditionally carrying one commodity at a time and often to a capacity that can reach up to 70,000 tons.

While the dry bulk carrier method is certainly efficient for the one way trip, sending the vessel back empty is clearly a waste of space. Very rarely will there be candidate cargo for the return trip that can fill the space of dry bulk carrier design. In a perfect shipping world one would export 70,000 tons of sugar and return with 70,000 tons of corn so that not an ounce of fuel or manpower is wasted. But this is simply not the case.

A trend detailed this week in the Maritime Executive evidences that major players in the food importing industry of Asia are replacing dry bulk carriers with container ships. These ships are a common sight off of any major port city. They are stacked with metal shipping container that are packed full of everything from brand name clothing, toys, electronics, home furnishings, and everything else in between that is manufactured overseas. Container vessels allow parties to import smaller amounts of product, filling the ship with a diverse assortment of consumer goods with varying price points, ultimately resulting in a cheaper-by-the-ton cost.

While importing the commodities (e.g. Sugar) on a container ship may not be the most directly efficient method it makes better economical sense. After unloading the aforementioned consumer goods (e.g. toys, electronics, furnishings, etc…) on Western country shores the vessel can then be used to load agricultural commodities to send back to Asia. As consumer trends within Asia itself change, such as with respect to diets that have now adopted a demand for animal feed grains, such an opportunity serves multiple purposes. Instead of one needing to find one large scale importer to fill the returning vessel, many small to medium scale importers can have their needs met by segmenting cargo within separate containers.

With such a change occurring in the overseas shipping industry the demand for container ship services will continue to rise. Because there will be a movement away from dry bulk cargo ships designed to carry one massive load, the need for better methods to secure cargo within shipping containers too will rise. That’s where our industry comes in. If you are shipping consumer goods or any cargo on board within shipping containers and are in need of bracketing, bracing, packing, and/or crating from the Greater Vancouver port area then you can contact our industrial packing and crating company anytime.