Saudi Arabia’s decision to phase out forage production will increase demand for imported high protein alfalfa hay. This is according to a GAIN report from the USDA.
The additional 825,000 metric tons of projected imports would be worth roughly $250 million per year at 2016 prices. The United States is well positioned to supply a large portion of the additional demand, but this may require that US exporters and Saudi importers change business practices.
While the United States is the primary exporter of alfalfa hay, Saudi dairies are attempting to develop alternative sources like Argentina and Sudan. Argentine exports of hay to Saudi Arabia, however, only reached 15,000 metric tons in 2016. This is an increase from the 13,000 metric tons in 2015, but exports are reportedly restrained by transportation issues.
Several Arab governments and companies own high quality agricultural lands in Sudan, but there are significant problems getting hay from the field the port.
Spain is a large hay exporter and shipped 824,000 metric tons of hay (dehydrated fodder) in 2015, 553,000 metric tons of which was shipped to the UAE.
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