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Cargo types and packing method in containers

Shipping and freight is a diverse industry with various cargoes being carried across various trade lanes by many modes of shipping such as Dry Bulk, Wet Bulk, Container and General Purpose trades..

While most of the above trades are homogeneous in nature, the containerised trade maybe considered to be the most versatile of all of them accounting for around 1687 million tonnes moved around the world in 177.6 million containers in 2015..

Why is the containerised trade considered the most versatile among the shipping trades..?? Because of the sheer variety of cargo that is transported around the world in containers..

Using the various container sizes, types and dimensions available in the trade today, one can transport almost all types of cargoes around the world..

But sadly, it is also true that while most of you might have heard, worked on and shipped various cargoes packed in different types of containers, a lot of you might have never seen what the inside of a container looks like (whether empty or full) or the cargoes packed in it..

Hence I thought it might help to show a few images of various cargoes packed in various container types..

Although it is not a complete list/photos by any means, I think it covers a lot of the cargo packing types and should help you to get an idea..

If anyone has any other interesting or unusual cargoes/packing types packed in containers to share, please do let me know in the comments and I will add them to the article..

Interesting isn’t it.. 🙂


  1. Was Wondering about Pulses such as chickpeas. I am new to the shipping game and I found a supplier that says he can offer me a certain price for Bulk orders in 20 foot containers. Just wondering if that would come in bags similar to the minerals?
    or would they just dump them into the container?

  2. It’s always funny to see what types of cargo go in these containers! Our company had a customer who needed to ship a full container of life-size teddy bears, and on the way to the warehouse they [the customer] decided that they actually needed 2 more containers! Needless to say, it’s great that technology has brought us different modes of transportation of any items across the world.

  3. We are needing to ship our own 45′ hi cubes from Manila Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh. Shipping lines are not many who do this transpacific with 45s, and the one who has been identified that says yes will not ship our containers into US, only out. How to solve this, perhaps we can pay a ‘break bulk’ but smaller premium. Surely the cargo is way easier for them to take than break bulk. Any ideas anybody. These containers are customized inside and we cannot and will not use any other than our own.

    • Hi Chris, SOC or Shippers Own Container can be a problem sometimes especially in routes where space is tight and the reason shipping lines maybe saying this is that the Far Eastern carriers want their boxes out of USA and would like to use the space with their own boxes rather than with other lines or Shipper’s own boxes..

      If none of the lines are willing to accept it, you could try some NVOCCs and if they also won’t accept then best option is what you suggested and that is to find some space on a general purpose ship, but finding the right ship operator with the right routing might be a challenge for you..

      Good luck..

  4. I founded this article very interesting: sometimes you’re really curious to know special points in transportation, but don’t have time to search for the info, and as a result- postpone the searching for a while… It is quite informative article, thank you!

  5. While there were some professionally stowed containers shown here, there were also some dangerously loaded containers that were an accident waiting to happen. One must be very careful when loading and securing containers, the consequences of an improperly secured container could be catastrophic.

  6. Hi Hariesh,

    Brilliant article and pictures and I have lots more if you like including the ones where everything was done wrong and the consequences.

    but for those out there who are serious about packing containers they need to look at the UN CTU Code of Practice which is available on their webpage. there is also a brilliant E-learning course available from EXIS TECH in the UK which goes into the whole CTU code.

    Anyone who wants to know more should just google it and start reading. If there are any questions or queries about it or people want to know more I would be happy to help. When you consider something like 49% of all containers shipped out of Africa, S. America, Asia and India are either mis-declared, overweight, or not packed correctly…..

    everybody packing CTU’s should be reading the CTU code.

    Chris Walden

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