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Trade Monitor
Pace of U.S. Ethanol Sales Slows at Year End while DDGS Exports Rally

February 7, 2023

Exports, Trade


By Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst


December U.S. ethanol exports slipped 9% to a 17-month low of 74.2 million gallons (mg), or 41% less than the volume shipped a year ago. Essentially all U.S. ethanol exports landed in just eight countries, with Canada securing an unprecedented 66% of total exports. December marks Canada’s 21st month as our largest customer with 48.8 mg (up 2% from Nov.) moving across the border, the bulk of which was denatured ethanol. U.S. ethanol exports quadrupled to the Philippines (to 8.8 mg, an 11-month high) and doubled to Jamaica (to 4.1 mg, nearly a 3-year high). Mexico (4.0 mg) imported 23% fewer gallons while South Korea (3.9 mg) cut imports in half. Vietnam, which imported U.S. ethanol for essentially the first time since July 2020, purchased a record 2.4 mg. Some significant markets for U.S. ethanol were noticeably absent in December, including the European Union, Brazil, and India. Total U.S. exports for the year were 1.35 billion gallons, the fourth highest on record.


The U.S. imported 2.2 mg of undenatured ethanol from Brazil. Total U.S. imports for the year were 79.3 mg, or 36% more than 2021.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS), the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants, leapt 22% to a three-month high of 887,433 metric tons (mt). While the mix of larger customers varied from recent norms, Mexico remained our top customer for the sixth consecutive month despite an 18% decline to 169,032 mt (equivalent to 19% of December exports). Shipments to South Korea bounced back 35% to 124,216 mt and Colombia imported a record 64,373 mt. Other larger markets included Vietnam (61,964 mt, -9% to a 10-month low), United Kingdom (58,149 mt, up from zero to the largest monthly volume in over 4 years), Canada (57,287 mt, -5%), Indonesia (56,248 mt, +7%), Turkey (48,891 mt, +246%), Japan (46,850 mt, +23%), and the European Union (40,740 mt, +48%)—primarily to Ireland. Notably, imports to China hit an 11-month high (27,985 mt) while Taiwan imported the largest volume in 11 years (27,595 mt). Total U.S. DDGS exports for the year of 11.0 million mt were 5% more than 2021.