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Trade Monitor
January U.S. Ethanol Net Exports and DDGS Shipments Surge

March 6, 2020

Trade, Exports


March 6, 2020 — U.S. ethanol exports accelerated to a fifteen-month high in January, increasing 3% to 151.2 million gallons (mg), according to data issued today by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). Brazil purchased nearly twice as much U.S. ethanol as in December, solidly outpacing shipments to Canada.

Two-thirds of all U.S. ethanol exports in January landed in Brazil (58.2 mg, +89%), Canada (24.8 mg, -22%), and India (13.3 mg, -52%). U.S. shippers also sent sizable volumes to the Netherlands (12.9 mg, +19%) and South Korea (12.6 mg, -19%). January’s export pace is equivalent to an annualized export volume of 1.8 billion gallons.


Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol leapt to the highest volume since April 2018, up 40% to 95.7 mg. The majority was imported by Brazil (58.2 mg, or 61% of the January undenatured export market) with most of the remaining volumes secured by the Netherlands (12.9 mg), India (11.7 mg), and the Philippines (6.3 mg).

Sales of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol eased to a three-month low of 48.1 mg, 37% below December volumes. Canada reduced its purchases by 23% to 23.6 mg, yet it still captured half of denatured exports. South Korea (10.4 mg), Peru (7.3 mg), and Colombia (2.5 mg) were other large markets.


Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes bounced back, nearly quadrupling to 7.5 mg. Most product shipped to Nigeria (4.0 mg undenatured) and Colombia (1.4 mg undenatured).


There were essentially no U.S. imports on record in January following a seven-month stretch of shipments.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—increased by 27% in January to 976,688 metric tons (mt). Sales to Mexico rallied after a December dip, rising 19% to 169,854 mt and capturing 17% of the global market. Shippers exported 129,058 mt to South Korea (+3%), 115,632 mt to Indonesia (+21% to a record high), and 86,334 mt to Turkey (up from zero in December). The remaining half of DDGS exports were dispersed among another thirty-two countries, to include Thailand (72,725 mt), Vietnam (55,393 mt), and Japan (52,912). January DDGS sales imply an annualized export volume of 11.7 million mt.



Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis is a Research Analyst at RFA.