Photo: Sociedad Portuaria Regional de Cartagena, 2012.
Mainly because of its geography, a tropical mountainous country, Colombia, with production above 510,000 tons, was in 2010 the world’s fourth largest producer of coffee behind Brazil (2.9 M tons), Indonesia (1.1 M tons), and Vietnam (0.8 M tons).
About 95% of the coffee exported on global markets is carried in containers. This requires a thoroughly cleaned 20-foot container fitted with a liner bag, which is often considered disposable. Coffee bags of about 60 kg can also be directly loaded into containers, but this implies a lower packing density.
The above photo depicts a container coffee stuffing station where coffee bags are brought on pallets and manually emptied on a conveyor belt, which loads the coffee sideways into the container liner bag. Although this process implies additional transloading costs, these are compensated by higher packing density. On-terminal stuffing also offers the benefit of higher security, limiting the risk of illicit uses of the container.