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Diageo diverts shipments from Red Sea

Diageo has reacted to the conflict in the Middle East by diverting ships carrying its spirits away from the Suez Canal and the Red Sea.

Houthi rebel drone attacks on shipping in the Red Sea has increased the vulnerability of Western shipping, especially those carrying valuable cargoes, with vessels now taking the longer route via the

Cape of Good Hope to Asia and the Antipodes in order to avoid attack or possible capture.

“We have the ability to monitor round the clock the position of every ship and every container carrying our cargoes,” says Ewan Andrew, Diageo’s President Global Supply and Procurement and Chief Sustainability Officer.

“We can contact captains directly to assess the most appropriate course as situations require”.

“We acted within days [to the increased vulnerability in the Red Sea]. The journey around Africa can take up to two weeks longer, but the costs are manageable,” he said.

Diageo had confirmed last autumn that the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Palestinians living in Gaza meant that it was regularly reviewing shipments to countries in the Middle East.

Supply chain

The news follows growing and continued concern about the situation in the Red Sea and Suez Canal from attacks by Yemen’s Houthi group has resulted in concern about deliveries and the supply chain.

Specifically, the issue focused on the 20 mile Bab al-Mandab strait at the mouth of the Red Sea between Djibouti and Yemen, also called the Gate of Tears, which has seen the Houthi group target attacks on commercial ships.

A spokesperson for logistics firm Kuenhe+Nagel told the drinks business last month: “Containerised shipping represents 30% of global shipping, with an estimated total value of goods transported amounting to 1 trillion. Annually, approximately 19,000 ships navigate through the Suez Canal.

“The duration of an Asia-Europe voyage typically ranges from 30 to 40 days, subject to variations based on vessel type and deployed speed. An alternative route via the Cape of Good Hope adds about 6,000 nautical miles to the journey.”

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