The United States is the world leader in the supply and export of ethanol. The production of 15.6 billion gallons in 2023, representing 53 percent of global output, was nearly twice that of Brazil and ten times the European Union’s ethanol production.
National commitments to reducing GHG emissions and improving air quality created opportunities for U.S. ethanol on a global scale, as did demand recovery in post-pandemic travel. U.S. ethanol exports in 2023 totaled 1.43 billion gallons, worth a record $3.82 billion. That’s equivalent to 9 percent of domestic production and the third highest export volume on record. Denatured ethanol accounted for 73 percent of global demand.
Three-fourths of U.S. ethanol exports landed in Canada—which set a single-year record for any destination—the United Kingdom, and the European Union. The remainder was dispersed to an unprecedented 80 countries. Still, a 16 percent tariff-rate quota spurred the collapse of the Brazilian market, and U.S. ethanol exports remained frozen out of China as a prohibitive tariff remained in place.
Net exports of ethanol were the second highest ever as exports rose and imports fell to a 13-year low of 21 million gallons. As in recent years, essentially all imports arrived duty-free from Brazil to take advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard and California Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
The U.S. ethanol industry is one of the world’s largest producers of high-protein, low-cost feed for livestock, poultry, and other animals. Biorefineries supplied 35 million metric tons of distillers grains and corn gluten feed/meal in 2023.
Nearly one-third of U.S. distillers grains—10.8 million metric tons worth $3.3 billion—was sold into the global market. Half the supply landed in Mexico, South Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia with close to fifty countries importing the balance.
Exports of corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal—co-products of wet-mill ethanol facilities—totaled 1.3 mmt in 2023. Chile, Ireland, and Indonesia were the largest importers.
- 2023 U.S. Trade Statistical Summary: Ethanol
- 2023 U.S. Trade Statistical Summary: Distillers Grains
- RFA Monthly Trade Monitor
- RFA Markets & Statistics: Ethanol & Co-Product Trade
- Fuel Ethanol Trade Measurements and Conversions
- U.S. Grains Council: Bioethanol