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Trade Monitor
U.S. Ethanol Shipments Improve in August while DDGS Sales Pop to Highest in a Year

October 4, 2019

Trade, Exports


October 4, 2019 – U.S. ethanol exports moved 2% higher to 122.5 million gallons (mg) in August, according to data issued by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). U.S. shippers secured a record high for the month of August, with exports up 2.5% from year-ago volumes.


Canada was the top destination for the fourth consecutive month despite an 11% decrease in shipments, coming in at 31.1 mg. India purchased 17.6 mg of U.S. ethanol after essentially withdrawing from our market in July. Exports to Brazil gained traction after July’s drop, with 17.1 mg (+8%) shipped to the country. These three markets accounted for over half of U.S. ethanol exports in August. Exports to the European Union increased, most notably to the United Kingdom (10.5 mg—the largest volume since May 2017) and Finland (7.1 mg—the largest volume since May 2012), although shipments to the Netherlands (3.7 mg) fell by 67%. A record 3.0 mg was shipped to Australia. Meanwhile, South Korea (5.7 mg, -42%) and Colombia (3.0 mg, -68%) pared back. Total year-to-date exports of U.S. ethanol stand at 1.00 billion gallons. This implies an annualized export volume of 1.50 billion gallons which, if realized, would be the second-largest volume on record.


Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol accelerated in August, rising 53% to 61.8 mg and nearing more recent norms. Volumes to Brazil improved by 8% to 17.1 mg (28% of foreign sales). Other key destinations included India (13.0 mg), the United Kingdom (10.5 mg), and Finland (7.1 mg).


U.S. exports of denatured fuel ethanol tightened with a 30% decrease to 49.9 mg. Canada remained our top customer at 29.5 mg, accounting for nearly 60% of foreign sales despite a 12% decline from July. Other top importers of denatured ethanol included Peru (5.9 mg, following zero in July), South Korea (4.0 mg, -17%), and Colombia (3.0 mg, -68%).


U.S. sales of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes jumped 25% with 10.8 mg exported in August. U.S. shippers exported 4.9 mg of undenatured product (down 2.4 mg or -32%), with the bulk distributed among Sweden (1.7 mg), Saudi Arabia (1.7 mg), and Canada (0.9 mg). India (4.6 mg) and Singapore (0.8 mg) spoke for most exported denatured product for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes.


The U.S. imported ethanol from Brazil for the third consecutive month, with purchases of 13.3 mg—42% lower than July. Total year-to-date imports stand at 83.9 mg. The U.S. is on pace to import the largest volume of foreign ethanol in six years, and according to EIA data and trade press reports, imports from Brazil have picked up since the end of August.


In August, U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—catapulted 34% to 1.12 million metric tons (mt), a 12-month high. Shipments to Mexico picked up 14% to 179,873 mt, once again securing its status as top buyer of American DDGS. South Korea (112,338 mt, +3%), Vietnam (111,624 mt, -7%), Thailand (91,906 mt—an 8-month high), and Indonesia (76,414 mt, +1%) rounded out the top five markets—representing half of all foreign sales. Year-to-date exports of U.S. DDGS stand at 7.30 million mt. This implies an annualized export volume of 10.95 million mt.



Ken Colombini