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Is there a grain corridor in the Red Sea?

Има ли коридор за зърното в Червено море?

An attack on a bulk carrier this week in the Red Sea region will lead to more diversions of grain cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope, although most are still taking their chances and using the Suez Canal for now, shipping sources said on Tuesday.

Houthi forces in Yemen hit the US-owned and operated bulk carrier Gibraltar Eagle with an anti-ship ballistic missile, US Central Command said on Monday, although there were no reports of injuries or significant damage.

Dry bulk vessels are often used to transport grain, although in this case the Gibraltar Eagle was carrying steel products.

“This week's attack is certainly seen as a danger to bulk carriers by their owners. There is a lot of concern and I'm pretty sure this will divert much larger volumes, including grains, to other routes," said the head of bulk shipping at a German trading house.

He made the comments even before reports emerged that an empty Maltese-flagged, Greek-owned bulk carrier had also been hit by a missile on Tuesday as it traveled north in the Red Sea.

Ishan Bhanu, lead agricultural commodity analyst at Kpler, said on average about seven million tonnes of grain per month move through the Suez Canal, but now about 20 percent of cargoes are diverted around the Cape of Good Hope.

"Ten days ago, that number was around 10 percent, but in the last few days it has risen to 20. The main ones affected are soybeans from the US, wheat from Europe and canola from Australia," he added.

A senior grain trader at a German trading house dealing with Asia said they were still shipping through the Red Sea but were monitoring the situation closely.

The rerouting affects the massive program to export French wheat to China, which began in December.

Among the 12 cargoes of wheat that have left France for China since last month, five traveled via the Suez Canal and the Red Sea, while seven took the longer route around Africa, including two that returned back to the Mediterranean, show LSEG shipping details.

France is the largest wheat exporter in the European Union, and China has become a major destination in recent seasons, especially after the French lost market share in Algeria.

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