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RFA Releases 2023 Ethanol and Distillers Grains Export Reports

February 8, 2024

Exports, Markets, RFA News, Trade


Value of Exports Sets a Record of $7.1 Billion

According to new statistical reports released today by the Renewable Fuels Association, the value of the U.S. ethanol industry’s exports soared to a record level of just over $7.1 billion in 2023.  Ethanol export volumes strengthened to 1.43 billion gallons in 2023, the third-highest level on record. Meanwhile, distillers grains shipments registered at 10.8 million metric tons, slightly down from 2022.


For more than a decade, RFA’s annual trade summaries have provided industry advocates, policymakers, news media, and the public with the latest data and analysis, demonstrating the importance of U.S. ethanol and distillers grains to the world market.


“Exports represent a crucially important value-added market opportunity for U.S. ethanol producers and the farmers who supply feedstock to our industry,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “We exported one out of every 10 gallons of ethanol produced in the United States last year, along with one out of every three tons of distillers grains. The industry’s export sales made a remarkably positive contribution to the U.S. trade balance, while boosting farm incomes across rural America. As countries around the globe embrace ethanol as a low-cost solution for improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions, RFA will continue to pursue and protect free and fair trade opportunities.”


As detailed in the ethanol trade summary report, the 1.43 billion gallons exported in 2023 represented an increase of 9 percent over 2022 and the highest volume since 2019. The value of U.S. ethanol exports surged to $3.82 billion, a record high. Shipments to Canada set an annual record for a single destination, tallying almost 640 million gallons. The United Kingdom, European Union, South Korea, India and Colombia also were sizable markets.


U.S. imports of fuel ethanol plunged to 21 million gallons in 2023, the lowest level in more than a decade. The U.S. remained a net exporter for the 14th consecutive year, as imports accounted for only 0.1 percent of domestic consumption. Net exports of 1.41 billion gallons were the second-highest ever, trailing 1.60 billion gallons in 2018.


The second trade summary report released today covers co-product exports, including distillers grains, a high-protein feed ingredient for livestock and poultry. Distillers grains exports totaled 10.81 million metric tons in 2023, representing 30 percent of domestic production. Export volumes were slightly lower than 2022, as was their value, at $3.3 billion.


The U.S. supplied distillers grains to more than 50 countries via 26 domestic ports and exit points. Mexico remained the top export market with a 20 percent share, followed by South Korea and Vietnam and Indonesia. Turkey and Morocco were the largest growth markets in 2023, with increases of 48 percent and 39 percent, respectively, compared to 2022.


Printed copies of these analyses will be available to attendees at RFA’s upcoming National Ethanol Conference in San Diego, Calif.