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Trade Monitor
U.S. Exports of Ethanol and DDGS Ebb in April

June 4, 2020

Trade, Exports


June 4, 2020 — U.S. ethanol exports were 99.4 million gallons (mg) in April, a decline of 40.5 mg (29%) from March. Notably, lighter sales to our largest markets, Brazil (23.8 mg, -36%) and Canada (10.8 mg, -61% to the lowest volume since August 2010) accounted for three-fourths of that drop. Exports to India also declined although to a lesser degree (15.8 mg, -19%). However, shipments to Mexico experienced a six-fold bump as a record 13.8 mg crossed the border. South Korea also saw a sizable jump (12.6 mg, +9%). These five markets represented 78% of total U.S. global ethanol shipments in April. An annualized export pace of 1.75 billion gallons would be implied by prorating year-to-date sales, but seasonal factors and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in 2020 exports being below this level.


 U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol shipments in April shifted 6% higher to 63.6 mg. While sales to Brazil dropped by over a third to 23.8 mg, exports were robust to India (12.9 mg, up from zero in March) and Mexico (9.0 mg, up from 1.3 mg). South Korea (3.8 mg), Turkey (3.4 mg), and the Philippines (3.0 mg) were other large markets for U.S. undenatured ethanol.


 April U.S. denatured fuel ethanol exports shrank by 59% to 27.0 mg. Shipments to chief customer Canada plummeted by 68% to 8.3 mg (accounting for 31% of exported product), with South Korea (7.9 mg, -13%) and India (2.5 mg, -84%) trending downward as well. However, notable sales occurred to Finland (3.9 mg) and Mexico (2.0 mg).

Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes dipped 38% to 8.8 mg after a prior month pop in sales. Mexico (3.2 mg), Saudi Arabia (2.0 mg), and Canada (1.6 mg) were our largest customers.


There were no U.S. imports of ethanol recorded in April. However, Brazil shipped 36.0 mg of cane ethanol to the West Coast during the first three months of the year.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—declined by 15% in April to 765,635 metric tons (mt). Mexico cut imports by a third to 126,756 mt (the lowest volume since May 2017), thereby relinquishing its lead customer status for the first time since October 2018. While shipments to Vietnam were marginally unchanged from March at 139,724 mt (equivalent to 18% of April worldwide sales), the country became the largest U.S. DDGS importer for the first time. DDGS shipments to South Korea slowed (down 27% to 93,701 mt) while exports tripled to Thailand (up 223% to 85,715 mt). These four markets were responsible for 58% of global U.S. DDGS shipments, with the remainder parsed out among another 33 countries. Worldwide U.S. DDGS sales for the first four months of the year imply an annualized export volume of 10.48 million mt.



Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis is a Research Analyst at RFA.