HOTTER ON METALS: Breakbulk is back amid shipping’s container shortage

A shortage of containers to ship commodities around the world and the consequent soaring in associated freight rates have led to a revival of interest in breakbulk cargoes.

Producers and physical traders of metals, agricultural, chemical and timber products have been starting to book shipments in breakbulk vessels, which cost far less and doesn’t require vast amounts of equipment in port.
On the metals front, the main markets making the switch so far are steel and aluminium, although it is an option suitable for all non-ferrous primary metals and concentrate plus most value-added products.
Aluminium shipments are already being loaded onto breakbulk vessels in Malaysia and the Middle East, market participants say; there is already a backlog developing because loading takes longer.

While the vast majority of metals can be shipped this way, it will not be an option for some market participants: Breakbulk cargoes require thousands of tonnes to be loaded, meaning the larger the parcel, the lower the freight. This makes it likely that traders with small cargoes will struggle to make it financially viable,...


Andrea Hotter

February 10, 2021

19:42 GMT

New York