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Niche Commodities

Updated: Mar 16, 2023

A common characteristic of "million dollar brokers" is to specialize in managing freight for customers with a niche commodity. This article explores categories of goods that are considered niche based on the total volume of imports, exports, and companies trading said goods.


What do you consider "niche"?


  • Volume: In total, these categories of goods make up less than .5% of total US imports/exports. Even with that tiny fraction of the freight market, the following categories need over 188,000 twenty-foot containers transported into/out-of the US in a typical year.

  • Companies: Taking volume into account, categories with a relatively small number of organizations shipping the same goods are considered a niche.

  • Specialization: Some freight requires more attention than others. Specialization can be due to legal regulation, volatility of goods (such as chemicals, combustible, or toxic material), or the sensitive nature of cargo (such as live or expirable goods).


Silk


Silk is a luxurious and versatile textile that has been in high demand for centuries. The US market for silk is driven by the fashion and textile industries, as well as the home decor and furnishing sectors. China is the leading producer and exporter of silk to the US, followed by India, Thailand, and Italy.


The transportation and shipping of silk can be challenging due to its delicate and lightweight nature. Silk is prone to damage from moisture, temperature changes, and rough handling. As a result, it requires specialized packaging and handling during transportation. Importing silk into the US can also be subject to various trade barriers and regulations.


Lead


Lead is a heavy metal that is used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications, such as batteries, construction materials, and ammunition. The US is a major importer and consumer of lead, with Mexico and Canada being the largest suppliers.


Transporting and shipping lead can be hazardous due to its toxic properties. Lead must be transported and stored in accordance with strict safety regulations to minimize the risk of exposure to workers and the environment.


Tin


Tin is a versatile metal that is used in a variety of industrial applications, such as electronics, packaging, and construction. The US is a major importer of tin, with Indonesia and Malaysia being the largest suppliers.


Transporting and shipping tin can be challenging due to its weight and bulkiness. Tin must be transported in large quantities, which can require specialized shipping containers and transportation methods.


Tobacco


Tobacco is a highly regulated and controversial commodity in the US. It is primarily used for the production of cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products. The US is a major producer and consumer of tobacco, with domestic production and imports from countries such as Brazil and the Dominican Republic.


Transporting and shipping tobacco can be challenging due to its high value and the strict regulations surrounding its production and distribution. Tobacco must be transported and stored in accordance with strict safety and security regulations to prevent damage.


Wool & Animal hair


Wool and animal hair are natural fibers that are used in a variety of textile and clothing products. The US is a major importer of wool and animal hair, with Australia and New Zealand being large suppliers.


Transporting and shipping wool and animal hair can be challenging due to their bulkiness and fragility. They must be transported and stored in a dry and cool environment to prevent damage from moisture and pests. Importing wool and animal hair into the US can also be subject to various trade barriers and regulations.



Cork


Cork is an important commodity in the US market, primarily used for wine bottle stoppers, flooring, and insulation. The US is one of the largest importers of cork in the world, with Portugal being the primary supplier. Cork is transported to the US by sea, with the majority of shipments arriving at ports on the East Coast.


The major challenge related to the transportation of cork is the risk of damage during shipping. Cork is a fragile material and must be handled with care to avoid damage during transportation. Shipping cork also presents a challenge due to its weight. Cork is a relatively light material, which means that it takes up a lot of space in shipping containers. This results in higher shipping costs for cork compared to other materials of similar weight.


Importing cork into the US also presents some challenges related to customs regulations. Cork products must be properly labeled and inspected by the FDA to ensure that they meet all safety and quality standards. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in delays and additional costs.



Live Trees & Plants


Live trees and plants are also niche commodities in the US market, primarily used in the landscaping industry. The US is a major producer of live trees and plants, with Florida being a significant supplier. Live trees and plants are transported to the US by sea, with the majority of shipments arriving at ports on the East Coast.


The major challenge related to the transportation of live trees and plants is the risk of damage during shipping. Live trees and plants are living organisms and require special care to ensure their survival during transportation. The use of temperature-controlled containers and careful handling is necessary to prevent damage during shipping.


Shipping live trees and plants also presents a challenge due to the potential spread of pests and diseases. The US Department of Agriculture has strict regulations regarding the importation of live trees and plants to prevent the introduction of new pests and diseases. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in the rejection of shipments and additional costs.






Interested in specializing in one of these niches? CargoPro can help.


It takes less than 1 minute to find thousands of companies with weekly freight and contact information for these commodities.


Schedule a demo to get started.


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