What does breakbulk cargo shipping mean?

Breakbulk shipping is a popular method for transporting goods that do not fit in standard-size shipping containers or cargoes. This type of cargo is shipped in bags, boxes, crates, drums, and barrels, or it is simply rolled, lifted, and pushed onto a ship.

Examples of common breakbulk goods: 

  • Reels and rolls

  • Steel girders

  • Structural steel

  • Manufacturing equipment

  • Construction equipment and vehicles

What is the difference between bulk and breakbulk shipping?

Bulk and breakbulk shipping may sound similar, but the two can’t be used interchangeably because there are distinct differences between them.

Bulk shipping refers to the transportation of cargo such as grain, coal, and sand in a loose state rather than in a container. Breakbulk shipping, on the other hand, means that cargoes are transported in unitized form, such as by pallet, bag, strap, bundle, crate, and so on.

What are the benefits of breakbulk cargo shipping?


Breaking products down into multiple containers is typically more expensive than fully containerized goods. You will also save money on container rental, storage, labour, and equipment rental.

Reduced Deconsolidation and Reconsolidation

Breakbulk cargo shipping eliminates the need to divide oversized cargo into smaller shipments. The item could also be disassembled into small pieces and reassembled at the final destination.

Access to More Ports

Not all ports are modern enough for shipping and receiving all types of containers. You will have access to more ports because breakbulk is deliverable to most ports around the world.

What are some of the challenges with breakbulk shipping?

Security and Safety Issues 

Breakbulk goods are bagged, strapped, and bundled for shipping, and it is possible that these things will break, causing the shipment to be damaged, stolen, or injure people.

Limitation to Temperature Control

When shipping goods that must be kept at a specific temperature, such as foods, there may be some difficulties. These items will need to be shipped in temperature-controlled spaces, which is common in container shipping but impossible in breakbulk shipping.

How SFI Can Help

With more than 9 years of experience in freight forwarding, we have an established network of carriers that will be able to meet all your shipping demands. No matter if you are looking for breakbulk shipping, or oversized cargo shipping, contact us to learn more about how we can deliver your goods quickly and cost-effectively.