After experiencing two months of unprecedented volumes, U.S. ethanol exports pitched downward 20% at the close of 2016, with 98.0 million gallons (mg) shipped out, according to government data released today. Brazil and Canada were the top destinations in December, receiving 42.5 mg (43%) and 27.3 mg (28%) respectively. Peru (6.1 mg), Nigeria (6.0 mg), the Philippines (3.7 mg), and South Korea (3.6 mg) were other leading importers of U.S. ethanol. In calendar year 2016, American ethanol producers exported 1.05 billion gallons—up 25% from 2015 and the second-highest annual total on record. Two-thirds of all shipments were sold to The Big Three—Brazil (26%), Canada (25%) and China (17%)—with remaining quantities dispersed among 75 other countries.
Denatured fuel ethanol exports totaled 34.9 mg in December, down 12% from the prior month and resting lower than recent averages. At 25.2 mg, Canada was once again the leading importer of denatured product with 72% of the market. Brazil increased its purchases to 6.5 mg (19%), as did Peru (3.1 mg), but China bowed out completely. December sales of 54.2 mg in undenatured fuel ethanol fell 31% from the prior month’s record-breaking high as Brazil scaled back to 36.0 mg, although still maintaining its foothold in market share (66%). The Philippines (3.7 mg), Peru (3.0 mg) and Nigeria (2.7 mg) were other top spots for undenatured fuel exports.
Sales of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel use returned to hefty levels, up 140% to 3.4 mg, as South Korea (2.7 mg) and Colombia (534,620 gallons) purchased their largest monthly volumes to-date. December sales of 5.5 mg in denatured ethanol for non-fuel use regained 31% over the prior month, shipped primarily to Nigeria (3.3 mg) and Canada (2.0 mg).
December was absent of any fuel ethanol imports—the third month in a row and the fourth time in 2016. As a result, the United States saw an average of less than 3 mg per month enter its borders the entire year, for a total of 33.7 mg and the second lowest level on record. Likewise, net exports have gained a new threshold.
Trade sanctions were likely responsible for much of the late-year deterioration in U.S. DDG export market and reshuffling of top customers. Mexico took over as the new leader in December with 161,165 metric tons (mt), despite an 18% decrease from prior month volumes. South Korea opened its doors to more U.S. DDG (up 27% to 96,573 mt), as did Turkey (up 35% to 93,669 mt) and Thailand (up 5% to 86,706 mt). China’s imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties against U.S. DDGS continued to erode that market, such that less than 60,000 mt entered the country in December. Similarly, Vietnam’s new phytosanitary/fumigation requirements reduced U.S. exports to less than one-tenth the November shipments. For the full calendar year, China did end up as the top market, receiving 2.4 million mt, or 21%, of the 11.48 million total U.S. DDG exports. Mexico was the No. 2 market at 1.9 million mt (17%), while Vietnam (1.2 million mt), South Korea (923,709 mt), and Turkey (789,613 mt) rounded out the top 5. The remaining third of all exports were scooped up by 45 other countries across the globe.
The Renewable Fuels Association released a new statistical report today to provide details on top export destinations, shifts in the marketplace, import volumes, the value of exports, and other key data regarding U.S. ethanol and co-products trade in 2016.