U.S. ethanol shipments in April totaled 66.4 million gallons (mg), down 21% from March and the lowest level for the year, according to government data released this month. However, year-to-date exports stood at 303.7 mg – up 48% over the same time period last year – and implying an annual total of 911 mg. It is likely that the unprecedented rail service delays experienced in March and April contributed to the downturn.
Shipments of undenatured ethanol for fuel use were 13.9 mg in April, the lowest in nine months. Undenatured product was delivered to Brazil (9.4 mg or 67%), the Philippines (2.7 mg or 20%), South Korea (1.8 mg or 13%), and Israel. Exports of denatured ethanol for fuel use climbed to 50.4 mg. Nearly all shipments went to Canada (47.6 mg or 94%) and Peru (2.1 mg or 4%). Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel (and non-beverage) use more than doubled last month’s total, at 2.1 mg. South Korea’s first sizeable monthly import of denatured ethanol for non-fuel use (1.3 mg) accounted for this jump.
Ethanol imports in April totaled 15.9 mg, more than triple the prior month’s volume and the highest level since September 2013. Brazilian ethanol accounted for 13.2 mg (83%), while exports from Guatemala made up the remainder. The United States enjoyed its eighth straight month as a net exporter by a wide margin, with net exports of 50.4 mg in April.
Exports of distillers dried grains – the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants – pulled back in April to 950,194 metric tons (mt) after hitting a record high in March. China sustained its status as the leading destination for U.S. distillers grains in April with 457,323 mt (48% of total exports). Mexico ranked second with 157,311 mt (17% share), while Vietnam (51,561 mt), Japan (48,857 mt), South Korea (32,809 mt), and Indonesia (32,122 mt) rounded out the top markets. Year-to-date exports stood at 3,919,496 mt, implying an annualized total of 11.76 million mt, which could potentially set a new annual record.