People in the supply chain: Who’s who?

Confused when it comes to the named parties in freight shipping documents? Find it difficult to differentiate between terms like consignee, carrier, shipper, notify party and so on? 

Here’s a detailed breakdown of the people in the supply chain and listed on the official shipping documents.  

Check out our glossary for more shipping terms explained

Key people in the supply chain

Having an understanding of the people involved in the supply chain can help you to navigate this complex logistics network. Here’s a run-down of the people in the supply chain and roles involved in the shipping process. 



The shipper is the party responsible for the preparation of the shipment for export. It is important to understand that the shipper isn’t necessarily the freight payer. In the beverage industry, most of the time the shipper is the exporter/supplier, and the freight payer is the buyer/importer. 

The shipper is responsible for organising and paying for the mode of transport and is in the ‘contract of carriage’ with the chosen carrier. The shipper is the person or company that’s named in all the shipping documents, including the Bill of Lading, commercial invoice, packing list etc. as the party responsible for ordering the shipment. On a Master Bill of Lading, the named shipper may be a freight forwarder.


The carrier is the company that physically transports the shipment from the shipper to its destination

Some examples of a carrier are:

  • A shipping line and their container vessels that the shipment travels on
  • A trucking company who owns the truck the pallets/container is moved on

There are carriers that don’t own their own ships (Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers, known as NVOCCs) like Hillebrand Gori, but they have partnerships with carriers that do (those are the Vessel Operating Common Carriers, or VOCCs). An NVOCC is a facilitator to shippers and carriers, acting as an intermediary between the two. 

Freight forwarder

Freight forwarders are transport intermediaries. They ‘forward’ freight into the care of carriers and ultimately, to its final destination.

Listed as carriers in transport contracts, freight forwarders like Hillebrand Gori are often the designated shipper and consignee on a Bill of Lading. . This is because they are the ones the shipper consigns the shipment to for transport.

The role of a freight forwarder is broad. Many freight forwarders manage every aspect of moving cargo between locations in a complete end-to-end service. They act on behalf of the shipper (person/company paying for and arranging the freight movement) throughout.  Additional services that freight forwarders supply include advising on:

Hillebrand Gori is a prime example of a multifaceted freight forwarder! 


The consignee is the recipient party of the wine shipment, usually the buyer. In other words, the person or company to whom the carrier is supposed to deliver the shipment to. The consignee has legal ownership of the wine upon delivery at destination. It’s usually the buyer (the person/company who will own the wine shipment once delivered), but not always. It could be the buyer’s agent or bank, for example. The term ‘buyer’ would be used in the sale contract but consignee will always be the term used in the contract of carriage.

If shipments are destined for a third party logistics (3PL) company then the 3PL would not be named the consignee, it’s always the ultimate consignee that must be named - the buyer.

In international shipments, the consignee is the importer of record


The consignor is the party, person or company who will send the shipment. Usually, the consignor and seller are the same entity. It’s important to remember that freight ownership doesn’t legally change until the recipient of the wine(the consignee) signs the Bill of Lading (BOL). Until the ultimate sale is made, the consignor retains legal ownership of the products. 

When shipping internationally, the consignor is the exporter of record.

Notify party

The carrier or shipper should inform the named notify party about the arrival of the vessel. A notify party is any person or company that is notified with shipment information upon the arrival of cargo at its destination. Usually, the named notify party is a freight forwarder, agent or customs broker. They’ll deal with customs clearance and cargo delivery.

People in the supply chain: Hillebrand Gori takes care of it all

Shipping documents and their confusing terminology can be daunting for any people in the supply chain for wine, beer or spirits. If you need help with your shipment, we’re here to get your products moving swiftly and safely. 

Now that you know the roles of the people in the supply chain, you can see why using a multifaceted freight forwarder like Hillebrand Gori makes life simpler for people who need to transport products. 

Hillebrand Gori is an experienced freight forwarder that offers all sorts of services, especially in the complex carriage of alcoholic beverages. We offer a fully end-to-end shipping solution and intermodal transport options by road, rail, air and sea. You can leave the entire shipping process in our experienced hands, we’ll take care of everything.

Talk to us about your shipping options!


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