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Food importers shift to containers

Small but growing Asian businesses are moving away from dry bulk cargo ships

[LONDON] Food importers in Asia are switching from dry bulk cargo ships to container vessels, which normally carry goods such as toys and TVs, as they offer a way to import smaller amounts and can be cheaper per tonne.

The global transport of agricultural commodities traditionally has taken place on carriers brimming with 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes of a single cargo such as corn or sugar.

But the market is changing as ships seek to fill empty containers after unloading consumer goods in Western countries and offer competitive rates for commodities going back to Asia, the world's manufacturing hub.

At the same time, Asian import demand for animal feed grains is increasing as rising incomes trigger a...

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