INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS: Container Capacity – how much a container can fit?

INTERNATIONAL LOGISTICS: Container Capacity – how much a container can fit?

When importing or exporting goods to international markets, freight transportation seems to be one of the most cost-effective solutions. For such purposes, shipping containers are used to pack the goods. But for people in the industry the main question of “How much of product can I fit in a container?” may not have a clear and simple answer.  

As traders we know how confusing it can be, therefore we considered making it easier for our readers and described the different shipping containers, their respective dimensions and loading capacity. 

Standard shipping container dimensions 

Let’s talk about containers first. The 20 ft and the 40 ft standard shipping container are two of the most widely used containers in the world to transport goods via ocean freight. They are also known as dry shipping containers or dry vans. 

These types of containers are different from others because they are completely airtight and hermetically sealed. Also, they are not equipped with cooling nor ventilation systems like refrigerated and ventilated containers. 

Both types of container are used to ship any type of products, meaning general cargo. 

The 20 ft standard shipping container can hold up to 10 standard pallets or 11 Euro pallets across its floor base. 

Here are the general dimensions and capacity: 

In terms of specific products, is the loading capacity the same for all products? To put it in context, can we fit the same amount of feather in one container as blocks of a heavy metal? The answer is YES and NO. 

  • Is 1 KG of feather equal to 1 KG of Iron? YES, they are equal in weight, but certainly NOT in volume.   
  • A 20 ft container can fit around 2 tons of feathers or 300 tons of heavy metal. 

Table below shows the container size and the volume they can fit of each product that we carry at TOSK Global Ventures: 

PRODUCT 20 ft standard shipping container (Metric Tonnes-MT) 40 ft standard shipping container (Metric Tonnes-MT) 
Sesame Seeds 18 26 
Peanuts 19 26 
Fresh Ginger 12 24 
Dried Ginger 13 19 
Cashew Nuts – Raw 16 25 
Cashew Nuts – Processed 18 26 
Hibiscus Flower 6.5 12.5 
Gum Arabic 19 26 
Charcoal 12 22 
Cocoa Beans 16 25 
Soybeans 18 26 
TOSK Global Ventures Ltd. All rights reserved.

After comparing different products, we can see, that the load and quantity of product would vary depending on the volume of each product, packaging, weather you are using pallets or bulk fill-up, etc. 

In addition, different product may need different types of containers. These are other types of containers and their common uses (Source): 

  • Refrigerated Container: Recommended for delicate container and fresh products. A bottom-air delivery system ensures that refrigerated cargo reaches its destination in optimum conditions. 
  • Open Top Container: allows cargo being loaded from the top, suitable for bulk cargo such as machinery. 
  • Flat Rack Containers: used for heavy loads, needs loading form top or sides. 
  • Garment Containers: used for all types of garments, and related industry. 
  • High-cube containers: have an extra foot in height than regular containers, ideal for light voluminous cargo. 

It can be complicated to know the exact load of a container, but at TOSK Global Ventures our team in logistics are experts in the subject and will help you along the way. 

We specialise in the trading of soft commodities. Contact us now for more information and we are looking forward to helping you and your business. 


+353(0)15 654 240

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