U.S. exports of distillers grains (DG)—a high-protein co-product of dry mill ethanol production used in feed for livestock and poultry—were the second-highest on record in 2018, totaling 11.88 million metric tons (MMT), according to a summary of 2018 ethanol co-product trade data published today by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
An estimated 31 percent of U.S. DG production was exported in 2018, meaning nearly one out of every three tons produced was exported to 50 countries on six continents last year. Mexico remained the top destination for U.S. DG, representing 17 percent, followed by Vietnam (11 percent), South Korea (10 percent), Thailand (9 percent) and Turkey (7 percent). Compared to 2017, Vietnam and the United Kingdom saw the most growth in U.S. DG exports, increasing by 306 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
However, U.S. DG exports to China continued to see a significant drop since 2016, when the country imposed punitive anti-dumping and countervailing duties against U.S. product. “Exports to China fell further after plunging 84 percent in 2017 due to the imposition of duties; it ranked 17th in 2018, accounting for only 2 percent of U.S. exports,” the summary noted.
“As this summary highlights, distillers grains and other co-products are a vitally important part of the global feed market and a growing number of countries and regions are relying on U.S. DG exports, including Mexico and Southeast Asia,” said RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “However, once again China’s protectionist actions have effectively closed off U.S. DG exports, preventing the country’s livestock and poultry feeders from accessing a low-cost, high-value source of nutrition. We will continue to work with U.S. government officials and industry partners to address this barrier and ensure free and fair trade between our two countries.”
Among other facts from the RFA report:
- U.S. DG exports had a total aggregate value of $2.47 billion in 2018, a 33 percent increase from 2017;
- The U.S. imported 317,000 MT of DG in 2017, equivalent to just 3 percent of DG exports and 1 percent of domestic DG consumption. Canada was again the top supplier of U.S. DG imports, shipping 286,000 MT to the U.S., comprising 90 percent of total imports. Brazil and China were the only other two significant DG exporters to the U.S. market in 2018;
- U.S. exports of corn gluten meal—a feed co-product made by ethanol wet mills—totaled 821,000 MT in 2018. Indonesia, Chile, and Egypt were top destinations; and
- U.S. exports of corn gluten feed—a feed co-product also from ethanol wet mills—reached 1.17 MMT in 2018, down slightly from the prior year. Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom accounted for a combined 76 percent of total U.S. corn gluten feed exports.
View RFA’s co-product trade summary here.