Alfalfa Hay Exports Soften

Mar 04, 2014

U.S. exporters may see fewer alfalfa hay sales to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2014. The UAE bought enough hay last year that it will scale back purchases, hay export companies have told Seth Hoyt, market analyst and author of The Hoyt Report weekly newsletter.

“UAE imported so much hay that it has a logjam of supplies over there right now,” said Hoyt quoting export sources.

Alfalfa hay shipments have also slowed to China from the West Coast, Hoyt was told. That was confirmed by U.S. Department of Commerce data; alfalfa hay exports to

Seth Hoyt

China dropped by 15% in December 2013 vs. November. Alfalfa hay exports to China should pick up in coming months. Some exporters think that the West Coast will see a smaller year-to-year increase in alfalfa hay exports to China in 2014 as compared to the increase in 2013 vs. 2012 totals. This is mainly due to competition from dairies in the West, particularly those in California.

Hoyt won’t attempt, at this point, to guess the extent that U.S. hay exports will decline. But the UAE is the largest importer of Western U.S. alfalfa hay, he reminded listeners while speaking at the World Ag Expo Forage Seminars in mid-February.

In November of 2012, the UAE imported 63,000 metric tons (mt) of alfalfa hay from the West Coast – compared to 46,000 mt in November 2013. That’s according to the most recent U.S. Department of Commerce numbers. A new commerce department report on exports will come out in early March.

“Hay supplies in the UAE exceed demand, particularly on lesser-quality hay, according to export sources. It appears that West Coast exporters will sell less fair-quality export alfalfa hay to the UAE in 2014,” Hoyt said.

The Chinese, who increased hay imports by 60% in 2013, at times have erratic buying patterns and have over-purchased alfalfa hay in the near term, export sources told Hoyt.

“The latest number I heard is that there are 15 million dairy cows in China. We have 9.2 million (in the U.S.). The government in China stated a year ago that they wanted to double milk production within five years.

“But their milk production went down 5.7% in 2013. Some of the Chinese dairies are complaining that they don’t have enough quality feed. So it appears that there will be good demand from China for quality alfalfa hay.”

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