In 2020, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 1.3 billion gallons valued at $2.3 billion. This volume was 9 percent lower than 2019 due to reduced demand for fuel use, and 20 percent below the record 1.7 billion gallons shipped in 2018. Year-over-year value fell only 1 percent due to higher prices for fuel ethanol and increased shipments of higher-value, medical-grade ethanol.
U.S. fuel ethanol to Brazil saw the largest absolute decline in 2020, due to Brazil’s COVID-19 impacted fuel market and a 40-percent depreciation in Brazil’s currency. Brazil’s 20 percent import duty continued to impact the market. Export volumes were also lower than expected to other fuel markets in 2020, most notably the Philippines, Colombia, and Peru. Sales to Canada held mostly steady as U.S. suppliers backfilled Canada’s increased sales to Europe. By contrast, U.S. fuel ethanol sales to mainland China rose from zero to 21.2 million gallons. Sales to Hong Kong added 10.5 million gallons.
Differing from fuel ethanol markets and driven by demand for hand sanitizer, U.S. exports of other industrial and consumer ethanol rose, most notably to Mexico (up $67 million) and Nigeria (up $25 million). For the remaining top 10 markets, ethanol sales rose to the EU27+UK on strong demand for hand sanitizer and high local fuel ethanol prices, industrial ethanol sales to India inched higher to a record $312 million, and industrial ethanol sales to South Korea dropped as China covered South Korea’s demand for medical-grade product.