U.S. DDGS exports hit 6-year high, ethanol shipments increase

By Ann Lewis, Senior Analyst, RFA | October 05, 2021

October 4, 2021 — U.S. ethanol exports in August saw substantial improvement from the prior month’s slump, expanding 56% to 80.48 million gallons (mg).

Canada was the top destination for the fifth straight month with imports of 33.9 mg, the largest volume since March (representing 42% of the August U.S. ethanol export market). Given that former key destinations Brazil, China, and India were again nearly absent from the market, the scope of U.S. ethanol exports extended to a broader range of customers than has been the norm. Larger markets included South Korea (9.9 mg, up 86%), the United Kingdom (up fivefold to a two-year high of 6.7 mg), Peru (6.2 mg, up from zero), Nigeria (5.0 mg, up from zero), the Netherlands (4.9 mg, up 22%), and Mexico (4.0 mg, up 83%). Shipments over the first eight months of the year were 796.3 mg, down 10% from the same period in 2020.

The U.S. imported 9.6 mg of undenatured ethanol from Brazil, along with a minimal volume of denatured ethanol from South Africa and Canada.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains (DDGS)—the animal feed coproduct generated by dry-mill ethanol plants—spiked 17% to 1.24 million metric tons (mt). This marks the highest volume of U.S. DDGS exports since Aug. 2015, with much of the growth occurring outside of our largest markets. Exports to Mexico, the top U.S. customer for the last eleven months, declined by 18% to a four-month low of 203,666 mt (representing just 16% of all U.S. DDGS shipments in August). DDGS sales to Vietnam jumped 29% to 194,667 mt, its second-largest monthly purchase to date. Exports to Turkey slowed after a large bump in July, down 43% to 86,772 mt. Substantial export volumes also landed in Canada (86,238 mt, up 23% to the largest volume in over a decade), South Korea (79,859 mt, down 10%), Indonesia (64,853 mt, down 3%), China (56,573 mt, up 61% to the largest volume in more than four years), Thailand (55,554 mt, up 153%), and New Zealand (50,000 mt, up from zero). Total DDGS exports through August were 7.73 million mt, which is 10% ahead of last year at this time.