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West African market shows potential for U.S. ethanol

U.S. Grains Council staff traveled to West Africa for a market assessment mission, to gauge the potential for U.S. ethanol. (Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Grains Council)

An organization dedicated to enhancing opportunities for United States grain products recently sent a team to West Africa. The potential found in this market for U.S. grain products is described below.

AUDIO: Brian Healy, U.S. Grains Council (USGC)

U.S. Grains Council (USGC) staff recently traveled to West Africa for a market assessment mission. Brian Healy, manager of ethanol export market development for USGC, says the Council assessed market opportunities for United States ethanol in Nigeria and Ghana.

“In the previous year, Nigeria was our 10th largest export market. In the most recent marketing year, Nigeria was our 13th largest market. We wanted to better understand the trade dynamics and what was driving trade there. Ghana was another market. We wanted to understand what opportunities existed there,” Healy said.

Both markets show potential for United States ethanol exports. Healy says U.S. ethanol has acquired a significant share of Nigeria’s industrial market. The U.S. Grains Council now works toward gaining a larger presence in Nigeria’s fuel market.

“Nigeria’s fuel specification allows for up to 10-percent of ethanol in the fuel supply. We’re trying to better understand how they can move forward with their fuels policy. They have had a biofuels policy on the books for about a decade, but haven’t implemented it to this date. We’re not only trying to encourage exporters of pre-blended fuel to Nigeria, but also Nigerian importers to directly import fuel ethanol. That 10-percent would be about 230 million gallon market, which is a huge opportunity,” Healy said.

Ghana had been a “small, but consistent buyer of United States fuel ethanol” from 2014 to 2017. The country, however, did not import ethanol directly from the United States in the 2017/2018 marketing year.

The U.S. Grains Council notes – U.S. ethanol, originally purchased by the European Union, was re-exported to West African markets like Nigeria and Ghana in the last marketing year. Healy says the Council is also interested in working with the European Union, to increase U.S. ethanol exports globally.

“One is to better understand why the EU is importing increased levels of our products,” Healy said. “We understand that some of it is making its way to West Africa, but we also understand that some of it is making its way to North African markets. We’re looking to work with some of these folks, especially in Spain, to better understand those trade dynamics.”