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  • UFOP

German biodiesel exports hit record level in 2023

In 2023, Germany shipped around 2.9 million metric tons (870.6 million gallons) of biodiesel abroad, the largest quantity ever.


Imports amounted to 1.6 million tons (480.3 million gallons), falling 6.2 percent short of the previous year’s volume. The figure does not include imports of hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), also known as renewable diesel, as this is exclusively produced outside of Germany.


In 2022, HVO imports totaled approximately 480,000 tons, or nearly 160 million gallons.


The Netherlands, with Rotterdam being the most important hub for world trade in biofuels, remained by far Germany’s most important trading partner for biodiesel. In 2023, exports rose 3.6 percent year-on-year to approximately 1.2 million tons (360.2 million gallons).


Trade to the U.S. and Poland also increased.


Exports to the U.S. saw a 55 percent climb to 444,100 tons (133.3 million gallons), making the U.S. the second-most important destination.


By contrast, deliveries to Belgium plummeted around 40 percent to 381,800 tons (114.6 million gallons).


Total German biodiesel exports reached a new record level at 2.9 million tons (870.6 million gallons), with output amounting to approximately 3.9 million tons (1.17 billion gallons).


According to investigations conducted by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (mbH), biodiesel imports to Germany in the year 2023 had a volume of 1.6 million tons (480.3 million gallons), which was down 6.2 percent on 2022.


The largest tonnages came from the Netherlands, Belgium, Malaysia and Austria. 


The decline in imports from Belgium was particularly noticeable. At 295,500 tons (88.7 million gallons), the volume shipped to the German market was just down almost 23 percent on the previous year.


By contrast, imports from Malaysia went up around 6.6 percent.


Biodiesel imports of several hundred-thousand tons from China, which UFOP said are suspected of being fraudulent, were obviously imported via Rotterdam because China is not listed in the import statistics.


According to UFOP, the German greenhouse-gas (GHG) quota policy and competition for GHG efficiency are the key drivers of this strong trade in the commodity.


This is a desired effect of the resources and environmental policies, and it is confirmed by the Evaluation and Progress Report by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE).


In 2022, biodiesel (including HVO) from waste oils and fats, at approximately 1.57 million tons, accounted for approximately 60 percent of total consumption of around 2.54 million tons.


The association said it assumes that consumption in 2023 amounted to 2.62 million tons, with a similar share of waste-based biofuels (biodiesel and HVO).


The UFOP has noted that with exports amounting to more than 1.28 million tons, a sizeable potential of biodiesel that could have been used for crediting towards the national GHG-quota obligation and consequently for meeting the GHG target for the transport sector was in fact exported.


Such potential should be exploited in the future, especially because investments in biodiesel or HVO production facilities are currently not to be expected in Germany.


“The UFOP holds that promoting synthetic renewable fuels and hydrogen is basically the right thing to do in the long term but does not help with the targets to be met by 2030 and 2040, especially because there are two other recipients that also need to be served—shipping and especially aviation,” the organization stated.


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