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Ethanol Market Analysis

Ethanol has been one of the fastest growing markets for a value-added product in the agricultural space. It helps farmers to diversify their revenue streams and develop new markets. The two largest feedstocks for ethanol production are corn and sugar.

Key facts about the global ethanol market
  • World production of ethanol will reach around 110 billion litres in 2020.
  • The ethanol market has grown by about 33% over the last 10 years.
  • The US has expanded its global ethanol market share from less than 20% to over 40% over the last 10 years.
  • The top three producers of ethanol are Poet, ADM and Valero, which control about 17% of world output and are all US-based.
  • The largest ethanol exporting country Brazil is nowadays also the biggest importer with a share of 30% of the world total.

Key themes affecting the ethanol market

The climate change debate is leading to an increased interest in renewable fuels. All around the world governments are looking at ways to mitigate emissions from households, industry and the transport sector. While some progress has been made with regards to the former two sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the latter has proven more difficult to tackle. One approach to change this is a change in the way biofuels policies are designed. While earlier schemes normally provided for specific volume targets for the blending of biodiesel or ethanol that needed to be met, more recent efforts focus on GHG savings that transportation fuels need to achieve. This change in emphasis has far-reaching consequences. The most obvious is that GHG savings are now at the centre of interest whereas they had been a welcome side-effect of the earlier policies. Less obvious, but nonetheless crucial, is that these decarbonisation programs are agnostic with regards to the methods that result in GHG savings. Of course, biofuels are the most obvious solution to achieve these targets as they are available in meaningful volumes, can be used in the current fuelling systems and powertrains and produce much lower GHG emissions when compared to fossil fuels. However, they are not the only ones and future technological developments in low-carbon generation of electricity or hydrogen could break the current dominance of renewable fuels in this field. This shift makes these policies less vulnerable to critics that say that biofuel policies had become an unsustainable way of support for agricultural interests that re-allocate valuable resources away from food and feed to energy markets.

Ethanol prices internationally, $ per cubic metre
Fuel ethanol USAFuel Ethanol BrazilFuel Ethanol Europe


At IHS Markit we offer market-leading ethanol information solutions via our industry-leading FO Licht service. The 130-year old brand is renowned for its extensive coverage of commodities that make up feedstocks for ethanol and biodiesel, to the market dynamics that affect each grade of fuel, to price, production and consumption statistics globally at a country and company level.
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FO Licht World Ethanol Report

Contract and spot prices for fuel, beverage, industrial and pharmaceutical grades, delivered per hl pure alcohol. Plus commentary for all major ethanol producing regions worldwide including United Kingdom, France, Benelux, Mediterranean, Scandinavia, US, Pakistan and South America.

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FO Licht World Ethanol and Biodiesel Report

World market news, analysis and 12-month forecasts on fuel ethanol, biodiesel, industrial and beverage alcohol, as well as historic and current prices and trade statistics, and monthly balances of world ethanol and world biodiesel production in the most comprehensive database of the biofuels market.

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Biodiesel data, from ethanol to biofuels, available to purchase to support your organisation with strategic analysis and economic modelling.


Consulting services spanning all your needs in the biofuels sector, from long-term forecasting beyond what is available in our subscription services to market studies for financial investments reviewing everything from market forecasts to competitor intelligence.

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