• Bagged coffee in containers


    When ordering a container from the carrier, specify in writing that the container must be suitable for the carriage of coffee beans, i.e. foodstuffs, that you reserve the right to reject any container you detect to be unfit, and that you will claim compensation for losses resulting from unsuitable containers. This is no guaranteed protection, but it will alert the carrier. Even so, you remain liable for the selection of a suitable container, so firmly reject any suspect container - irrespective of who suplies it.

    Use a container approval form like the example in box 05.02.04 - this will serve as a guideline for the personnel in charge of loading and will also remind them to pay the necessary attention. A copy could be left inside the container to demonstrate that you did pay the necessary attention.

    The basic premise is that condensation cannot always be avoided but it is possible to avoid the condensed water vapour coming back into the coffee.

    • Containers must be technically impeccable: watertight; free of holes and free of corrosion on the roof and sides; intact door locks, rubber packings and sealing devices. They must always be swept clean and must be dry and odourless, with no water or chemical stains or spots on the floor.
    • When stuffing takes place at the shipper's premises the shipper must inspect the containers. An inspector should go inside the container and close the doors. If any daylight is visible the container must be rejected immediately. Also check that all rubber door seals are whole and tight.
    • If possible check the moisture content of the floor. At least insist on a dry container that has not been washed recently. Note that it takes a long time for the floor to dry out and that without an instrument you have no reliable means of checking the floor's moisture content, which should not exceed 12% to 14%.
    • The inspector should also particularly check for obnoxious smells by remaining inside the closed container for at least two to three minutes. There are occasional incidents of coffees arriving with a strong phenolic smell which renders them unfit for use. A phenolic smell or taste is reminiscent of disinfectant or an industrial cleaning agent such as carbolic acid. Inspectors should reject containers that show evidence of a prior load of chemical cargo or that have an IMCO/IMO dangerous cargo sticker or label affixed.
    • For more information on the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) and dangerous cargo labels go to www.imo.org , the website of the International Maritime Organization. Note that coffees tainted by chemical contamination or smell will show claims on arrival ranging from 50% to 100%, to which must be added the costs of destruction.
    • Wooden container floors (where fitted) must have been treated against infestation - details of the treatment method is found on the CSC (Container Safety Convention) plate on the container door. This is important because of rules on the use of Wood Packaging Material (WPM) that is used in international shipments. See for example www.aphis.usda.gov - Importation of Wood Packaging Material.
    • The actual stuffing of the container should take place under cover, just in case there is a rain shower. Bags should be sound: no leaking, slack or torn bags; no wet bags; no stained bags.
    • The container should never be filled to absolute capacity in terms of space. Always leave enough room above the stow to avoid contact with the sometimes hot steel roof. (This applies equally to bulk cargo.)
    • Best practice is to line the container with cardboard or two layers of Kraft paper, preferably corrugated with the corrugation facing the steel structure, so that no bag comes in contact with the metal of the container. When stuffing is complete a double layer of Kraft paper should be fitted on top of the bags all the way to the floor in the doorway. This will ensure that the paper will at least partly absorb any condensation from the roof. In a fully lined container there will be cardboard or Kraft paper also between the bags and the corner posts, in the junction between the upright walls and the floor, at the back of the container and at the doors, and covering the top of the stow as well. Cardboard is stronger and preferable to Kraft paper.
    • Desiccants or dry bags are meant to absorb (some) moisture during the voyage. The need depends on local circumstances but desiccants should only be used with the express prior permission of the receiver. Many receivers do not permit their use under any circumstances and it is up to the exporter to determine their acceptability.
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