WASHINGTON — U.S. exports of distillers grains (DG) — a high protein co-product of dry mill ethanol production used to feed livestock and poultry — totaled 11.48 million metric tons (MMT) in 2016, down 10 percent from 2015’s record-high but still the second-highest on record, according to a 10-page summary of 2016 ethanol co-product trade data published today by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). DG exports were shipped to 50 countries on five continents last year.

According to the report, an estimated 31 percent of U.S. DG production was exported in 2016, meaning one out of every three tons produced was shipped to foreign markets. China was the leading destination for U.S. DG, followed by Mexico, Vietnam and South Korea. However, U.S. DG exports to China plunged 63 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, as the country implemented anti-dumping and countervailing duties against U.S. product. Meanwhile, shipments to nine of the other top 10 markets experienced growth in 2016. In fact, DG exports to Mexico, Vietnam, South Korea, Turkey, and Thailand grew by a combined 2.06 MMT in 2016 — equivalent to the annual DG production of 10 average-sized ethanol plants.

“Distillers grains and other co-products have become an enormously important component of the global feed market. This report underscores that our co-products are in high demand in every corner of the world,” said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Unfortunately, we saw a slight downturn in total exports in 2016 because of China’s protectionist actions to shut out U.S. distillers grains. Last week, RFA and our partnering organizations sent a letter to President Trump, alerting him to China’s unfair and illegitimate trade barriers, and urging the incoming U.S. Trade Representative to address the issue. We remain concerned with China’s actions and look forward to the administration’s response to ensure free and fair trade between our countries.”

Among other facts from the RFA report:

  • S. DG exports had a total value of $2.19 billion in 2016, down 27 percent from 2015 and the lowest in four years. DG export prices averaged $191 per MT, down 19 percent from 2015 and the lowest in six years;
  • While U.S. DG exports to East Asia were down, shipments to other global regions surged. In particular, Southeast Asia and the Middle East experienced dramatic growth;
  • S. exports of corn gluten feed (CGF) — a co-product from wet mill ethanol — rebounded to a five-year high in 2016. CGF exports were up 43 percent over 2015 levels. Ireland was the top market, receiving 27 percent of total U.S. CGF exports, while Turkey and Israel were other top markets; and
  • Total exports of corn and corn-based ethanol co-products tallied 73 million metric tons in 2016, the highest on record.

The new report is a companion to RFA’s 2016 ethanol trade summary published last week.

View RFA’s co-product trade summary here.