BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — ACX Pacific Northwest Inc., of Bakersfield, has been named the No. 1 U.S. forage exporter for the third year in a row by the Journal of Commerce and is opening a new facility in Goldsboro, N.C.
The plant has just begun receiving bermuda grass and soon will be shipping to the Middle East, taking pressure off ACX's West Coast facilities, said Greg DeWitt, ACX marketing manager.
The Goldboro plant is the first major hay export operation on the East Coast of any company, DeWitt said. U.S. hay exports developed on the West Coast where product was and proximity to Asian markets. With expansion into China and the Middle East there's opportunity to ship bermuda grass hay from the southeast to the Middle East, DeWitt said.
ACX exported close to 700,000 tons of long fiber forage or 52,400 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2012, excluding sales to companies that export hay under other names, the company said.
ACX moved from third to second in animal feed behind The DeLong Co., a Clinton, Wisc., grain shipper. ACX moved up from 34th to 23rd largest exporter of all commodities, not just agricultural ones, according to the Journal of Commerce.
U.S. hay exports continue to grow, DeWitt, said. Hay exports totaled approximately 2.5 million tons in 2008 and more than 3.7 million tons by the end of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. That level likely will be exceeded this year, DeWitt said.
"When ACX started 35 years ago, we shipped our hay products primarily to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan for dairy and beef cow markets," said Mike Gombos, ACX chief marketing officer. "Today we also ship to China and the Middle East not just for dairy and beef but to feed goats, camels and sheep."
ACX began doing business as Allied Commodities Exchange in Long Beach in 1978. The company grew and had numerous facilities in California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah. In 1993, company headquarters were moved to Ellensburg, Wash., where a plant was opened. In 1999, the headquarters moved to Bakersfield. In the next decade smaller plants were closed and processing was consolidated at Ellensburg and new plants at Wilmington, Calif., 2009, and Stockton, 2011. ACX worked with port and government officials to extend an overweight container corridor to serve the Wilmington plant near the ports of Long Beach and San Pedro. It located the Stockton plant for barge service to the Port of Oakland.
As ACX increased shipments to the Middle East it became partners with Al Dahra Agricultural Company in the United Arab Emirates.
ACX uses internet applications to allow growers to track their contracts and shipments.