LCL (Less (than a) container load). This abbreviation is commonly used to indicate that the size of the shipment is not large enough to use a full container.
For example, a shipper may have only a small shipment of cargo that, in conventional sea transport, would be known as “break bulk cargo”. This cargo would be sent to the carrier or to the freight forwarder who would then consolidate the small shipments for one destination and then load or “stuff” the consolidated cargo into a container. The consolidation of LCL cargo can be carried out at a container freight station (CFS) or even a container yard (CY). The freight rate for LCL cargo is higher than for FCL cargo of the same commodity to take into account additional costs with consolidation and stuffing of the container. Another reason for the use of LCL and consolidation is where the manufacturer or exporter may not have facilities for loading a full container at his own premises.