ContainersDry CargoOperations

It’s the real thing: Coke sources handy bulkers as container choices run dry

Coca-Cola becomes the latest global mega brand to decide to switch from regular liner choices for crucial deliveries, instead opting to move just over 60,000 tonnes of material on three handysize bulk carriers to keep its production lines running across the world.

The decision to go for bulk carriers rather than containerships was revealed via Coca-Cola’s procurement director, Alan Smith, on LinkedIn on Friday.

“When you cant get container’s or space due to the current ocean freight crisis, then we had to think outside the box,” he wrote in an update on the social media platform.

We had to think outside the box

The material shifted in sacks is the equivalent of 2,800 teu. Smith revealed the bulker shift was the first of many planned over the coming months, the latest chapter in what Steve Ferreira, CEO of New York-based shipper advisory Ocean Audit, has described as “containergeddon” – this year’s extreme shortage of boxships and empty containers.

Coke’s logistics boss went on to reveal that the three bulk carriers – namely Empire Bulkers’ 34,399 dwt Aphrodite M, AM Nomikos’ 35,009 dwt Weco Lucilia C, and Zhejiang Shipping’s 35,130 dwt Zhe Hai 505 – will head to non-congested ports, adding: “[W]e are hoping for a smooth discharge but it is a big watch out when chartering as the D&D per day is mega.”

While the Coke material deliveries are in sacks in the holds of the three handy ships (see image below), many other shippers have decided to take creative means to get their goods to market in recent months. This has seen bulk carriers repurposed and strengthened to carry containers, and big name retailers such as Walmart, Ikea and Home Depot chartering their own containerships.

Alan Smith / LinkedIn

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Why are so many of these container-switch stories only reported as half stories (or even no story at all, in the case of John Lewis)?
    Three 35,000 ton bulkers heading for non-specific ports carrying 55,000 tons of Big Bags……….what sort of reporting is that?
    What is the commodity, what are the non-specific ports (or maybe we should track the AIS ourselves)?

  2. How timely! Had someone in my Twitter feed claiming his restaurant franchise was having trouble getting Pepsi product and was told it was a packaging issue. Must admit my curiosity went to wondering what’s in those big bags? Must be a trade secret! I do find it good that bulk carriers will be up for options in cargo!

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