New government data released March 6 show that U.S. ethanol exports achieved a new record in 2018, as an astonishing 1.70 billion gal. of ethanol were shipped to more than 80 countries around the world. The 2018 export total beat the previous export record set in 2017 by 25%, and the data show that nearly 11% of total U.S. ethanol production was exported last year.
Brazil was the leading destination for U.S. ethanol exports, receiving 513.2 million gal., or 30% of the total. Canada was the second-leading market with 349.6 million gal., followed by India at 156.8 million gal. Together, the three countries accounted for 60% of total ethanol exports. The European Union, South Korea and the Philippines were other top markets in 2018. Export volumes to nine of the top 10 destinations saw increases over 2017 volumes, with Brazil, the Netherlands, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Colombia showing the largest gains.
The value of U.S. ethanol exports was $2.7 billion in 2018, up 14% from 2017’s value and the highest on record. Undenatured fuel ethanol accounted for 51% of total exports, while denatured fuel ethanol was 43%. Denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel industrial uses made up the remaining 6% of exports.
U.S. ethanol imports remained scarce in 2018, with just 78 million gal. entering the country. Nearly all of the imported product entered through California ports and was used to meet the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard requirements.
Reflecting on the record year, Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA) president and chief executive officer Geoff Cooper stated, “One of the greatest successes for our industry in 2018 was growth in the export market, driven in large part by the sustained international market development efforts of RFA and its partners.”
Coopers said more than one out of every 10 gal. of ethanol produced in the U.S. went into the international market, providing savings at the pump and cleaner air for drivers in more than 80 countries.
“This accomplishment is even more impressive when you consider that U.S. ethanol faced punitive trade barriers in several key markets,” he said. “RFA will continue to work with its partners to break down artificial trade barriers, expand export opportunities for U.S. producers and educate the world’s consumers on the benefits of low-carbon renewable fuels.”