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Trade Monitor
U.S. Ethanol Export Sales Kick Off 2023 with Large Gains while U.S. DDGS Exports Scale Back

March 8, 2023

Exports, Trade


By Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst


January U.S. ethanol exports jumped 59% to an 8-month high of 117.8 million gallons (mg). Canada was our largest importer for the 22nd consecutive month with 47.5 mg of U.S. ethanol crossing the border (primarily denatured), representing 40% of total U.S. exports despite a 3% decline from December volumes. Shipments increased across the bulk of remaining markets, including the United Kingdom (17.9 mg, up from minimal volumes to the largest exports in over a decade), South Korea (14.5 mg, +271% to an 8-month high), European Union (11.7 mg, up from minimal volumes), India (8.5 mg, up from zero to an 8-month high), Colombia (5.0 mg, +398% to a 15-month high), and Mexico (4.8 mg, +20%).


January was the first time in four months that the U.S. did not log foreign ethanol imports.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS), the animal feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants, scaled back 13% to 770,344 metric tons (mt). Mexico remained our top customer for the 7th consecutive month despite dipping 9% to a 9-month low of 153,659 mt (equivalent to 20% of January exports). Shipments to South Korea declined 10% to 111,609 mt while the European Union boosted imports by 74% to a 4-month high of 70,774 mt (with the majority bound for Ireland). Other larger markets included Indonesia (53,591 mt, -5%), Vietnam (51,475 mt, -17% to the lowest volume since Sept. 2017), Canada (51,221 mt, -11% to a 20-month low), Japan (39,227 mt, -16%), and Colombia (36,841 mt, -43%). Notably, imports to China hit a 12-month high (32,550 mt, +16%).


In February, RFA released annual analyses of U.S. ethanol and co-products exports in 2022. Find these trade summaries and other RFA publications here.