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July U.S. Ethanol Exports Robust Outside of Thinner Sales to Brazil; Global Sales of U.S. Distillers Grains Decrease

September 4, 2019

Trade, Exports


September 4, 2019 – U.S. ethanol exports decreased 6% to 120.1 million gallons (mg) in July, according to data issued by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Sales were mixed with exports pressing higher among most larger markets, although shipments to Brazil pared back by 44%.


Canada was the top destination for U.S. ethanol for the third consecutive month. Shipments increased 18% to a 12-month high of 34.8 mg. Exports to Brazil lowered to 15.8 mg, a 12 mg drop, as the country’s sugarcane harvest accelerated. Oman nearly doubled its offtake in July at 12.4 mg, and the Netherlands re-entered the market to buy 11.4 mg. Other top importers of U.S. ethanol included South Korea (9.8 mg, up 44%), Colombia (9.3 mg, up 38%), and the Philippines (9.1 mg, up 112%). Notably, India essentially withdrew from our export market for the first time in three years after taking 21.9 mg of American-made ethanol in June. Total year-to-date exports of U.S. ethanol stand at 880.1 mg. This implies an annualized export volume of 1.51 billion gallons  which, if realized, would be the second-largest volume on record.


July shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol were 40.4 mg, a decline of 37% for the lowest volume in ten months. Historically, Brazil has accounted for a significant portion of total monthly foreign sales; however, with exports 38%  lower at 15.8 mg, several countries stepped up imports. Larger markets included the Philippines (7.2 mg), the Netherlands (5.5 mg), and South Korea (5.0 mg).


U.S. exports of denatured fuel ethanol rallied in July with a 33% boost over June volumes at 71.1 mg—the first time in nine months that sales of denatured fuel outpaced undenatured exports. Top customers were Canada (33.5 mg, up 19% and accounting for nearly half of shipments in July), Oman (12.4 mg, up 97%), and Colombia (9.3 mg, up 56%).

U.S. sales of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes moderated with 8.6 mg exported in July, down 21%. U.S. shippers exported 7.3 mg of undenatured product (up 2%), with the bulk distributed among Nigeria (3.7 mg), Saudi Arabia (2.6 mg), and Canada (0.8 mg). Turkey (0.9 mg) and Canada (0.2 mg) spoke for most exported denatured product for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes.


The U.S. imported ethanol from Brazil for the fourth time this year, with purchases of 22.8 mg—5% lower than June. Imports from Brazil were larger than exports to the country in July. Total year-to-date imports stand at 70.5 mg, which implies an annualized import volume of 120.9 mg.  If realized, the U.S. would import the largest volume of foreign ethanol in six years.


In July, U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—declined 13% to a five-month low of 834,515 metric tons (mt). Mexico was again the top customer, purchasing 158,364 mt (-3%). DDGS exports to Vietnam softened at 120,136 mt (-4%) following higher sales in June, as did sales to South Korea (108,958 mt, -5%), Indonesia (75,860 mt, -8%), and Canada (60,507 mt, -15%). However, export opportunities expanded in Thailand (62,185 mt, +24%) and Japan (43,119 mt, +26%). Year-to-date exports of U.S. DDGS stand at 6.18 million mt. This implies an annualized export volume of 10.60 million mt.



Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis is a Research Analyst at RFA.