The United States exported 127.8 million gallons (mg) of ethanol in March, the third-largest monthly volume in more than five years according to government data released today and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. Total exports were down 10.3 mg (7%) from February, which was the highest monthly total since December 2011. U.S. ethanol exports through the first quarter of 2017 stood at 387.6 mg, a new record for the first quarter and indicative of an annualized total of more than 1.5 billion gallons.
Brazil was again the top recipient of U.S. ethanol, bringing in 36.7 mg (29% of total market share). Still, shipments to Brazil were down 28% from February’s record. U.S. ethanol producers have already shipped a total of 146.4 mg to Brazil in the first quarter of 2017, meaning the country has accounted for almost 40% of total year-to-date exports. Yesterday the Brazilian foreign trade council (Camex) Executive Management Committee delayed a decision on whether to impose duties on imported ethanol, handing the issue over to another subcommittee for consideration. UNICA has proposed a 16% tariff on imported ethanol while other producer groups have requested a return to the 20% duty that was discontinued in 2010.
Export volumes to India have nearly tripled since January, with 36.2 mg shipped in March. Meanwhile, Canada was the third-leading market for U.S. exports at 22.7 mg, followed by the Philippines at 18.5 mg. Together, Brazil, India, Canada, and the Philippines accounted for 89% of total shipments of U.S. ethanol in March. South Korea and Peru were other significant importers.
Exports of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol decreased by 8% from February’s record volume to 97.5 mg. Brazil (36.6 mg), India (32.2 mg), and the Philippines (18.4 mg) were responsible for 89% of purchases, with South Korea taking another 6% (6.3 mg). Denatured fuel ethanol exports experienced a 6% decline in March as 22.0 mg (88%) landed in Canada and 3.1 mg headed to Peru, making up the bulk of exports.
U.S. exports of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage uses increased 40% from February to 302,708 gallons. Meanwhile, sales of denatured ethanol for non-fuel use saw a slight uptick over February levels as India (4.0 mg, or 82%) and Canada (0.67 mg, or 14%) accounted for most of the 4.9 mg export market.
U.S. fuel ethanol imports were marginal with 5,846 gallons imported from Canada in March. As a result, total ethanol imports for the first quarter of the year only total 50,537 mg.
March exports of U.S. distillers grains–-the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants–-were 1.03 million metric tons (mt), down 4% from February. Turkey expanded its purchases by 26% to 192,359 mt, overtaking the former market leader Mexico, which declined 23% to 185,054 mt. South Korea (99,130 mt), Canada (67,099 mt), Thailand (61,234 mt), Indonesia (51,419 mt) rounded out the top market players, accounting for two-thirds of the U.S. export market. The remaining one-third headed to more than 30 countries around the world. Year-to-date exports stood at 3.04 million metric tons.