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Trade Monitor
U.S. Exports of Ethanol & Distillers Grains Reinvigorated in March

May 9, 2019

Trade, Exports


U.S. ethanol exports swelled 23% to 140.0 million gallons (mg) in March 2019, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This is the sixth straight month that exports have exceeded 100 million gallons.


Brazil was our top trading partner for the fourth straight month, purchasing a substantial 65.7 mg of U.S. ethanol and representing nearly half (47%) of our March export market. This reflects an 81% increase over February and the largest monthly shipment to Brazil in twelve months. Exports to Canada also surged 33% to 22.7 mg (16% of the global export market). India pared back on U.S. ethanol imports, decreasing 30% to 10.5 mg. Other significant importers include Switzerland (9.1 mg), Peru (5.5 mg), and the Philippines (4.9 mg).


March exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol broadened 36% to 92.2 mg. Brazil was the largest importer with 65.7 mg, up 81% and representing 71% of the market. Switzerland made a record purchase of 9.1 mg after only previously dabbling in our market, while Peru purchased 5.5 mg.


American producers shipped 19% less denatured fuel ethanol in March at 33.3 mg. However, U.S. exports to Canada increased 36% to 21.6 mg, representing two-thirds of all U.S. sales. The Philippines (4.9 mg), United Arab Emirates (3.1 mg), and South Korea (1.5 mg) were other major markets.


U.S. sales of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes plumped up in March as 14.5 mg entered the global marketplace. U.S. shippers exported 6.3 mg of undenatured product—the second-highest monthly volume on record—with the bulk distributed to Saudi Arabia (2.3 mg), Sweden (1.7 mg), Canada, Colombia, and Japan. India (7.9 mg) sourced most exported denatured product for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes.


The United States imported 10.7 mg of undenatured fuel ethanol from Brazil in March, while Canada dispatched 0.1 mg of denatured fuel ethanol. This reflects the first U.S. fuel ethanol imports of the year, and the largest first quarter volume to enter our borders in six years.


March exports of U.S. dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—rebounded from a 6-year low in February, pushing 39% higher to 956,828 metric tons (mt). Shipments to Turkey were five times higher than February at 162,660 mt, while DDGS exports to Mexico decreased 21% to 128,712 mt. South Korea (128,712 mt, +47%), Vietnam (94,695 mt, +29%), and Indonesia (89,401 mt, +19%) were other significant export markets. These five countries represented two-thirds of all U.S. DDGS exports in March.



Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis is a Research Analyst at RFA.