Types of goods

Practically all products you use in your day-to-day life have passed through the Port of Antwerp. And every product requires its own method of transport, or packaging. Five types of cargo can be distinguished: container cargo, liquid bulk, dry bulk, breakbulk and ro-ro.

Container cargo

Toys, televisions, DVDs, clothing, meat and computers; containers are the best way to transport these and many similar products. By efficiently loading the goods, they can be transported simultaneously in large quantities. One twenty foot container can hold the shopping of 300 trolleys! Or 3,000 game computers! Or 1,000,000 pencils! And the goods are well protected against the elements by the container's metal walls. The fixed size of the containers also has a major advantage. The standard sizes mean containers fit on sea-going vessels, lorries, inland barges and train wagons.

Antwerp's strengts with respect to container cargo

Read more about perishables cargo handling (reefer containers)

Liquid bulk

Crude oil, petrol, fuel oil, vegetable oils and even wine; all liquid products which are often transported on big tankers or through a pipeline to the next destination. A lot of liquid bulk passes through the Port of Antwerp every year. For the refineries, crude oil is the raw material they need to produce new goods, such as fuel oil, petrol and kerosene. These products also find their way as liquid bulk to the next destination. People heat their houses with fuel oil or aircraft at Brussels Airport use kerosene from the Port of Antwerp.

Read more about Port of Antwerp's petrochemical cluster

Read more about liquid bulk handling

Dry bulk

Dry bulk refers to grain, coal, iron ore, cement, sugar, salt and sand. They are not packaged separately, but transported in large quantities in the hold of a ship, wagon or lorry. A lot of the dry bulk arriving in Antwerp is processed into construction products. Blast furnaces use iron ore and coal to produce steel. But there are also tastier examples. A lot of yeast arrives in bulk in Antwerp, which is used to make beer or whisky.

Read more about dry bulk handling


Paper, wood, bags of cocoa, rolls of steel, parts of wind turbines; these are all products that can be transported in a container or simply put on a vessel. The name says it, it breaks easily. To be able to lift general cargo, it is often packaged on pallets, in crates or racks. A crane or forklift truck can easily load or discharge the goods. Antwerp's dockworkers have considerable expertise with this kind of work and an outstanding reputation, which has allowed Antwerp to grow into the leading breakbulk port in the world.

Read more about our breakbulk expertise


Ro-ro refers to 'roll on / roll off'. This name explains how the cargo is discharged and loaded. This concerns cargo that can be driven which is only done by especially trained drivers. Ro-ro is used for cars, busses, trucks, agricultural vehicles and cranes. To transport as many of these vehicles in one go, enormous ro-ro vessels have been built. Some ro-ro vessels have enough room for more than 8,500 cars! In the Antwerp port area, ro-ro is chiefly on the Left bank.

Read more about our roro solutions