The official numbers are in and they confirm what the industry has known all year: 2011 was a huge year for ethanol exports. According to government data released this morning, the year ended with record monthly ethanol exports of 172.7 million gallons (mg) in December. More than 40% of December exports went to Brazil.

The wave of shipments in December took the annual total for 2011 to 1.19 billion gallons, more than triple the 2010 export total of 396 mg. Brazil was the leading importer of U.S. ethanol in 2011, receiving 33% of total shipments. Exports accounted for approximately 8.6% of U.S. ethanol production in 2011, up from 3% in 2010 and 1% in 2009.


December exports of denatured ethanol totaled 136.5 mg, a new monthly record. Brazil was the top destination for denatured product in December, receiving 53.4 mg (39%). Other top importers of U.S. denatured ethanol were Canada (36.7 mg), the United Kingdom (21.8 mg), United Arab Emirates (11.8 mg) and Oman (6.6 mg).

Undenatured ethanol exports tallied 36.2 mg in December. Brazil was the leading importer of undenatured ethanol, bringing in 20.3 mg (56%). The United Kingdom (4.8 mg), Netherlands (3.7 mg), Nigeria (3.2 mg), and Mexico (2.7 mg) were also top destinations.


For the year, the U.S. exported 909.6 mg of denatured ethanol and 283.5 mg of undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol. Brazil was the leading importer of U.S. ethanol at 395.6 mg (which incidentally is almost identical to total U.S. exports to all nations in 2010). Of the volume shipped to Brazil, 140.9 mg (36%) was undenatured, while 254.6 mg (64%) was denatured.

Canada was the second-leading importer of U.S. ethanol in 2011, taking in 297.3 mg, almost all of which was denatured. Exports to Canada accounted for 25% of total shipments in 2011. The Netherlands (124.1 mg) and United Kingdom (119.4 mg) ranked third and fourth, respectively for the year. The United Arab Emirates, an OPEC member country, ranked fifth with 64.8 mg of imports from the U.S.

Distillers grains exports for 2011 totaled 7.65 million metric tons (mt), down 15% from 2010. Mexico was the top importer, receiving 1.78 million mt (23%), followed by China with 1.39 million mt (18%). Canada (737,689 mt), Vietnam (499,523 mt) and Japan (301,234 mt) rounded out the top five.