Booming Shipments to China Push March U.S. Ethanol Exports to 52-Month High

Source: By Geoff Cooper, RFA • Posted: Friday, May 6, 2016

U.S. ethanol exports totaled 95.3 million gallons (mg) in March, up 42% from February and the highest monthly volume in more than four years, according to government data released on Wednesday. China was the top destination, receiving 37 mg of U.S. product in March. Brazil (20.7 mg) and Canada (16.2 mg) were other leading customers. Year-to-date ethanol exports through the first quarter stood at 249.4 mg, meaning the industry is on pace to ship 1 billion gallons of exports in 2016.

Through the first three months of the year, China had imported 75.2 mg of U.S. ethanol, topping its total imports of 70.5 mg during the entire 2015 calendar year.

Exports of denatured fuel ethanol hit 50.1 mg in March, up 49% from February. Two countries accounted for 99% of denatured fuel ethanol exports—China received 35.3 mg, while Canada took in 14.3 mg. Brazil was the only other major importer of denatured fuel ethanol in March, bringing in 0.5 mg.

Undenatured fuel ethanol exports tallied at 41.2 mg in March, up 32% from the previous month. At 20.7 mg, Brazil received roughly half of the undenatured product shipments. India (4.1 mg), Peru (3.3 mg), South Korea (3.3 mg), Jamaica (2.9 mg), Mexico (2.6 mg), and China (1.7 mg) were other top markets for undenatured fuel ethanol in March. Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use totaled 4.0 mg in March, with Canada (1.9 mg) and Sweden (1.6 mg) taking in the lion’s share.

As for U.S. ethanol imports, just a dribble was reported in March. Canada shipped 640 gallons of fuel ethanol to the U.S., bringing the year-to-date total through the first quarter to just 40,325 gallons.

Exports of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by ethanol facilities—totaled 822,945 metric tons (mt) in March, up 5% from February. Mexico unseated China as the top destination for DDGS exports, bringing in 142,117 mt in March. China imported 121,619 mt in March, down 42% from February. South Korea (83,196 mt), Vietnam (71,840 mt), Turkey (60,997 mt), Indonesia (51,554 mt), and Thailand (42,328 mt) were other major DDGS export customers in March. Year-to-date DDGS exports through the first quarter stood at 2.4 million mt.

U.S. Ethanol Exports for 2016.03