More than half of WFP’s food is transported to its final destination by sea, making ocean transportation a crucial link in WFP’s supply chain.  As a reliable provider of cost efficient ocean transport services, WFP transports on average 1.9 million metric tonnes of cargo every year.

On any given day, WFP has 20 ships at sea carrying critical humanitarian assistance for distribution in more than 70 countries. By working with a specialized and reliable network of shipbrokers and freight forwarders, WFP moves cargo from 60 load ports to 75 discharge ports across five continents. 

When emergency strikes, WFP has the capacity to divert its shipments at short notice to ensure that life-saving food arrives to those who need it - on time. Shipping experts are also deployed when and where needed to strengthen the capacity of emergency operations.

Through its Ocean Transport Service, WFP works directly with EUNAVFOR and ATALANTA to maintain the safety of its vessels upon entry into dangerous waters. Escorting WFP’s charter vessels on a humanitarian basis since 2007, EUNAVFOR has been instrumental in helping WFP to sustain vital deliveries to Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa region. 

Charter Services

WFP relies on its extensive and trusted network of shipbrokers to charter the most reliable and suitable vessels for its ocean deliveries. A significant portion of the commodities which WFP transports are shipped in bulk, meaning that cargo such as wheat, maize or rice are loaded in large quantities of bulk or loose, in the holds of the ship. Upon arrival at the port, commodities are then discharged with pressurized spouts or grabs and bagged at port. Thanks to the diversity and flexibility of these specialized charters, WFP is also able to quickly deploy small coastal vessels and landing craft for emergency operations.

Liner Services

WFP uses liner services when transporting pre-packaged, specialized and ready-to-eat products such as High Energy Biscuits, Plumpy Sup and Super Cereal Plus. These high-value commodities require special care during handling and transport, and may need refrigeration during the sea voyage and while in storage at their destination. WFP also contracts liner vessels to ship some of the main staples of WFP’s food basket -- wheat flour, corn soya blend, sugar, vegetable oil and maize meal.  Transporting food by containers, which can be loaded, transported and off-loaded without ever being opened, makes this method key to loss prevention.

Service Provision

As a service provider, WFP offers innovative and comprehensive shipping solutions to the humanitarian community, including chartering landing craft, heavy lift ships, supply vessels and passenger ships. Upon request of humanitarian partners such as NGOs and UN agencies, WFP also moves a variety of non-food items such as medical supplies, portable storage units, generators and vehicles.

For more information on WFP’s ocean transport services please contact: