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Breakbulk

Multipurpose carriers face increased competition from container ships and bulk carriers, both of which are beset with overcapacity and low rates. Meanwhile, breakbulk/project demand is suffering from the decline in commodity prices caused by China’s reduced appetite for commodities and by a global oversupply of oil and gas.

Though heavy-lift and other shipments continue for projects already under way, other large mining and petrochemical projects have been postponed until the market’s direction becomes more clear. Volatile trade conditions also are reflected in declining shipments of steel and other industrial commodities. Other headwinds include increased near-sourcing for oversized shipments such as windmills for electric generation.

The shift of commodities such as cotton and coffee from breakbulk to containers has largely run its course. But other breakbulk and project cargos continues to move on multipurpose vessels, and many of the movements are becoming more complex, and require additional planning, expertise and equipment. Breakbulk/project cargo remains a dynamic market.

News & Analysis

17 Jul 2018
The new collaboration comes as India’s automobile sector logs robust growth.
Antwerp port.
12 Jul 2018
After a mixed performance in 2017, Europe’s top breakbulk ports face a complicated 2018, despite above-trend European GDP growth, due to the threat posed by tariffs and the reinstatement of sanctions against Iran.
California Los Angeles interchange.
03 Jul 2018
Cell phone service providers may soon pull the plug on a key data pipeline underpinning domestic visibility software, but most companies have switched to other location systems. Shippers need to ensure that their providers aren’t overly exposed to this cell phone triangulation data.
Trucks travel on a highway in Germany.
02 Jul 2018
A shrinking supply of qualified truck drivers, combined with above-trend European GDP growth, is pushing the continent's truck rates higher, and analysts had words to the wise for shippers for the year ahead.
Brazil truckers on strike - May and June 2018.
02 Jul 2018
Although the truck strike has ended, Brazil’s transportation bottlenecks need a bigger government and private sector fix.
An Amazon center in Nevada, United States.
30 Jun 2018
Amazon’s new network could help reduce shipper costs, and even aid other transportation providers, as volumes outstrip capacity. But as one might sense, Amazon’s latest play also will affect resources in an already beyond-tight US trucking sector.
Brazil truckers blockade road.
29 Jun 2018
Energy prices have risen, lowering the margins of a key supply chain performer, and that has implications for the container shipping industry.
A truck travels on a US road.
29 Jun 2018
Shared worksheets and manipulatable charts are the standard in trucking logistics, as they are in other sectors, but there is a scenario that would see truckers, shippers, and others abandon them.
John Wiehoff.
28 Jun 2018
Supply chain experts at the SM3 Connections 2018 conference are taking a focus-on-what-one-can control stance, while also counting on more-constructive policies in the years ahead that are likely to support the decades-long globalization trend.
A truck in New Mexico, United States.
27 Jun 2018
US shippers would welcome a break from relentlessly high truck pricing during the dog days of summer this year. But those dogs aren’t barking yet.
Toronto skyline.
19 Jun 2018
The Canadian economy is “humming,” an economist says, but can it outrun trade disputes with its largest trading partner?

Commentary