The world’s biggest fodder trader is eyeing a bigger share of WA’s $274 million export hay market and plans to spend $10 million expanding its Wannamal facility to triple production. Al Dahra, which bought into the Australian market when it purchased a majority stake in WA feed processor Glenvar Hay in 2016, is a major global player with a relatively small WA footprint. It currently produces about 20,000 tonnes of hay and employs 10 people at its Wannamal processing plant and 70ha farm on Great Northern Highway. The company last week unveiled plans to complete a $10 million investment in a new, high-tech production line and press at the Wannamal site by December. The upgrade would triple its annual output to 80,000 tonnes of export hay and straw a year. The company’s hay is processed, baled and wrapped on site before being trucked to Fremantle Port for export to the Middle East, Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea. Al Dahra general manager Keith Coakley said the expansion signalled Al Dahra’s intent to grow market share in WA and flagged the potential for more “strategic acquisitions” across Australia. “The new plant will triple capacity and lift packaging quality to the highest possible level, giving our valued customers in terms of bale size, packing and wrapping styles,” he said. “This expansion of Al Dahra’s initial 2016 footprint in WA signals our intent to build bigger, better and more sustainable relationships with more growers and to grow market share, potentially via strategic acquisitions, subject to due diligence stacking up.” The new Schutz hay processing plant was manufactured in South Australia and includes SA Torque Industries hydraulics and electrics, with the capacity to mill 80,000 tonnes a year. It replaces an older, American Steffan hay press included in the 2016 sale. Mr Coakley said Al Dahra currently bought hay from a “select pool” of WA growers, who were expected to have “excellent returns” this year. “With our focus on quality and a commitment to supply only a world-class, quality-assured product to our customers, we rely on a select pool of equally committed WA growers, who we regard as some of the best in the world,” he said. “We anticipate 2020 will again see excellent returns for growers, with strong demand for hay and straw to meet an increasing need for highly nutritious livestock feed to meet the world’s expanding protein requirements. “Exporters have very little carry over stocks from last year, which featured low yields but high quality.” The Wannamal site is Al Dahra’s only Australian investment, adding to a global feed division which includes more than 160,000ha of farmland, 1200 pivots, and 5000 staff in 20 countries to cater for 45 markets — with a leading position in Asia and the Middle East. It also owns and manages 15 forage processing and baling facilities capable of processing 3 million tonnes of alfalfa and grasses a year for global cattle and dairy herds. The company expects to grow its share of the global fodder trade to 20 per cent this year. WA produces more than 50 per cent of Australia’s export hay, followed by South Australia and Victoria, with the largest number of export-accredited processing facilities. Al Dahra is one of several hay exporters in WA, which also includes Bodiam, Balco Australia, Narakine Hay, SP Hay, Pentarch, Ballard Hay, Hay Australia, Gilmac Hay, and Narrogin Hay.