USDA: US ethanol exports at 1.33 billion gallons in 2020

By Erin Voegele | February 05, 2021

The U.S. exported more that 1.33 billion gallons of fuel ethanol last year, down from 1.46 billion gallons in 2019, according to data released by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service on Feb. 5. Despite the pandemic, that level of exports is the fourth highest volume on record. Distillers grains exports reached 10.96 million tons, up from 10.81 million tons in 2019.

Ethanol exports for December were at 111.33 million gallons, down slightly from the 113.61 million gallons exported in November, and down from the 147.08 million gallons exported in December 2019.

Canada was the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports in December at 22.91 million gallons, followed by South Korea at 12.94 million gallons, and China at 12.52 million gallons.

The value of U.S. ethanol exports was at $188.73 million in December, down from both $193.22 million gallons in November and $246.46 million gallons in December 2019.

Total U.S. ethanol exports for the full year 2020 reached 1.33 billion gallons at a value of $2.33 billion, compared to 1.46 billion gallons at a value of $2.35 billion in 2019.

Canada was the top destination for U.S. ethanol exports last year at 326.43 million gallons, followed by Brazil at 199.82 million gallons and India at 189.63 million gallons. In 2019, Brazil was the top destination for U.S. ethanol at 332.33 million gallons, followed by Canada at 330.67 million gallons and India at 173.8 million gallons.

Distillers grains exports for December were at 842,738 tons, down from 927,604 tons in November, but up from 765,960 tons in December 2019.

The value of U.S. distillers grains exports for December reached $196.22 million, down from $203.23 million in November, but up from $154.66 million in December 2019.

Total U.S. distillers grains exports reached 10.96 million tons at a value of $2.33 billion in 2020, compared to 10.81 million tons at a value of $2.23 billion in 2019.

Mexico was the top destination for U.S. distillers grains exports in 2020 at 1.74 million tons, followed by Vietnam at 1.29 million tons and South Korea at 1.27 million tons. Mexico was also the top destination for U.S. distillers grains in 2019 at 2.03 million tons, followed by South Korea at 1.25 million tons and Vietnam at 1.2 million tons.

 The Renewable Fuels Association pointed out that nearly one out of every 10 gallons of ethanol produced last year was exported. “COVID-19 and protectionist trade barriers created enormous headwinds for ethanol in the international market in 2020,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA. “But the U.S. ethanol industry again rose to the challenge and supplied more than 1.3 billion gallons of clean, green renewable fuel to customers across the globe. American ethanol continues to play a crucial role in helping nations around the world reduce consumer fuel costs, cut harmful tailpipe pollution, and meet decarbonization commitments under the Paris climate agreement. We are especially encouraged to see that China finally re-entered the market in December, importing nearly 13 million gallons of U.S. ethanol. We enter 2021 on solid footing and the industry is optimistic about the prospects for meaningful growth in ethanol exports.”

Growth Energy expressed optimism in global ethanol demand.   “In a year where gasoline demand has taken an unprecedented dive due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re optimistic to see worldwide ethanol demand continue to provide U.S. producers with market opportunities,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy.

“One of our main objectives at Growth Energy is building strategic global partnerships with countries around the world in order to grow demand here at home and to underscore to international leaders the economic and environmental benefits of ethanol. As we look ahead, a global movement is afoot to achieve aggressive clean energy goals, and the 2020 ethanol export number reflects that the world is seeing biofuels as a part of the solution as an affordable, low-carbon, high-octane fuel.” 

Additional data is available on the USDA FAS website