Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has marked the first ever commercial shipment of Canadian alfalfa hay to enter the lucrative Chinese market since Canada gained market access for alfalfa hay in March 2011.
Twenty containers of Canadian alfalfa hay have been shipped to China and 40 more containers have been ordered; the total estimated C$600,000.
"This is the first of many shipments as China's growing demand translates into new sales opportunities for Canadian producers, and jobs and growth for our economy," said Minister Ritz.
Minister Ritz congratulated Green Prairie International, a global wholesale supplier of quality forage products located in Alberta, to be the first Canadian company to ship alfalfa into the Chinese market.
"We are extremely excited by this new marketing opportunity between Canada and China," said John Van Hierden, President and CEO of Green Prairie International. "This will create unprecedented opportunities for the Canadian forage industry. We believe this will create important economic and cultural benefits to both Canada and China."
More to come
As China looks for more international suppliers to meet its growing demand for animal feed, the Canadian Government is also negotiating new market access for timothy hay, also used in the livestock feed industry.
Canada produces some of the best quality hay and processed by-products in the world, with primary forage exports being timothy and alfalfa. Canadian alfalfa and timothy hay, meal, and pellets total exports worldwide were worth over C$85 million in 2011.
China's hay and forage product imports increased significantly in the last five years, going from $119,000 in 2006 to over $103 million in 2011. Alfalfa hay is a high-quality forage used in livestock feed, in particular for dairy cattle.
China is significantly expanding its dairy industry-aiming to double its milk production by 2015-and the growing demand for alfalfa hay on the Chinese market is offering some great sales opportunities for Canadian producers.