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Trade Monitor
Global U.S. Ethanol and DDGS Export Pace Slows at Year End

February 8, 2022

Exports, Trade


February 8, 2022 — The official numbers are in and they confirm that the U.S. ethanol industry exported 1.24 billion gallons in 2021—the fifth-largest volume on record. Exports in December slowed from November’s uptick, down 21% to 117.9 million gallons (mg). Canada remained the top destination for U.S. ethanol for the ninth consecutive month with imports of 36.3 mg, down 3%. India imported 15.9 mg, down 20%, while South Korea boosted its imports of U.S. ethanol by 37% to 14.3 mg. Brazil imported 12.9 mg, or less than half the volume landing in November. Outside of those four countries, which represented two-thirds of U.S. ethanol exports in December, significant volumes landed in Nigeria (8.6 mg, +59%), the Netherlands (8.0 mg, +17%), Mexico (6.6 mg, +6%), the United Kingdom (4.0 mg, -72%), and Germany (2.1 mg, up from zero and a record high). Notably, China has been essentially absent from the U.S. export market for the last seven months.


The U.S. did not log any meaningful volumes of foreign ethanol imports in December (27,770 gallons shipped from Brazil and 6,247 gallons shipped from Canada). This marks the smallest volume of total fourth quarter imports in five years. U.S. ethanol imports in 2021 totaled 58.4 mg.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—declined 8% to 933,882 metric tons (mt) as shipments to our largest customer waned. Mexico imported 166,756 mt, or nearly half the record-high volume received in November. However, U.S. DDGS exports strengthened among the bulk of our largest customers, including South Korea (130,754 mt, +28%), Vietnam (103,518 mt, +14%), Canada (92,968 mt, +13%), Indonesia (83,219 mt, +15%), and China (68,585 mt, +17%). Total DDGS exports in 2021 were 11.60 million mt, marking the third-largest annual volume on record.


Watch for the release of RFA’s 2021 Exports & Imports Statistical Summaries, which will be posted in our Publications Library this week.