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Trade Monitor
Global Sales of U.S. Ethanol Lose Momentum in May while U.S. DDGS Exports Post Big Gains

July 2, 2021

Trade, Exports


July 2, 2021 — American exports of ethanol fell 38% in May to 70.4 million gallons (mg), the lowest volume in a year. Nearly 80% of all U.S. ethanol exports were shipped to just four countries, with Brazil again markedly absent from the list. Canada imported 27.3 mg, just 2% lower than April, representing 39% of all exported U.S. gallons. China increased its purchases by 7% to 12.6 mg and Nigeria imported 6.4 mg, up from zero in April. Exports to South Korea eased 61% to 9.0 mg following a larger purchase in April. Other substantial markets included India (4.2 mg, down 74% with an absence of undenatured ethanol imports for the first time in eleven months), Saudi Arabia (3.3 mg, up 30% to the largest monthly volume in nearly three years), and Mexico (3.2 mg, down 5%). Year-to-date U.S. ethanol exports totaled 582.4 mg, or 11% less than last year at this time.


For the fifth consecutive month, the U.S. did not log any meaningful imports of foreign ethanol. This marks the smallest year-to-date imports since 2013.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—leapt 21% in May to top 1,000,000 metric tons (mt) for the first time in eight months. Mexico boosted its imports by 61% to mark its eighth consecutive month as our top customer. Shipments of 255,394 mt represented a quarter of all U.S. DDGS exports in May and were more than twice Mexico’s imports at this time a year ago. Exports to Vietnam increased 7% to 107,460 mt, and shipments to South Korea rose 6% to 101,679 mt. However, exports were lower to Turkey (78,897 mt, down 11%) and Indonesia (65,091 mt, down 10%). Other larger trade partners included Japan (53,663 mt, up 83%), Colombia (tripled to 53,229 mt), Thailand (doubled to 52,409 mt), Morocco (39,261 mt, up 69%), and Canada (38,216 mt, up 2%). Total DDGS exports for the first five months of 2021 totaled 4.49 million mt, or 9% ahead of last year.