Drybulk shipping serves many basic industries. Cargoes can be divided into
• Major bulk commodities, including iron ore, coal and grains.
• A wide variety of minor bulk commodities associated with the iron and steel industries, non-ferrous ores, minerals and petcoke, forestry, fertilizers and other agricultural products, salt, cement and other construction materials
Bulk carriers generally fall into four major categories based on carrying capacity
• Capesize (over 80,000 dwt) for iron ore and coal used in the steel industry and power stations, usually over long-haul routes.
• Panamax (60,000-80,000 dwt) for coal and grain as well as various industrial metals, iron ore and minor bulk.
• Handymax (40,000-60,000 dwt) for steel and forestry products, grain, coal, cement, fertilizers, sugar and minerals
• Handysize (10,000-40,000 dwt) for a variety of bulk cargoes, often on short-haul routes.
While drybulk trade has grown on a global basis, the relative importance of Asia-Pacific as a key driver in that sector has increased, reflecting in part global economic growth and increasing demand for raw materials.
Certain drybulk trades exhibit levels of seasonality, depending supply or demand factors such as grain production or coal demand.