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U.S. Ethanol Exports Fall in May as Imports Ramp Up

July 8, 2014


U.S. ethanol shipments in May totaled 52.9 million gallons (mg), down 20% from April and the lowest level in nine months, according to recently released government data. However, year-to-date exports stood at 356.6 mg, implying an annualized pace of 856 mg for 2014. Exports of denatured ethanol for fuel use were 39.6 mg, with shipments primarily heading to Canada (29.5 mg, or 75%), the United Arab Emirates (3.9 mg, or 10%), Peru (3.2 mg, or 8%), and Spain (2.7 mg or 7%). Shipments of undenatured ethanol for fuel use were 12.4 mg in May, the lowest level since July 2013. Brazil imported 5.2 mg (42%) and the Philippines 2.7 mg (22%), with South Korea (2.7 mg or 21%), and Mexico (1.7 mg or 14%) taking most of the remaining volumes. Collectively, Brazil and the Philippines have been the destinations for nearly two-thirds of total undenatured fuel ethanol exports over the last seven months. Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel (and non-beverage) use retreated in May to 946,837 gallons, with more than half (56%) heading to U.S. neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Ethanol imports rose for the third month in a row to 28.7 mg, nearly twice the volume imported in April and closing in on last year's monthly average imports. Brazilian ethanol accounted for the lion's share at 23.6 mg (82%), with the Netherlands (2.2 mg) and Guatemala (2.1 mg) as other significant markets. The United States enjoyed its ninth straight month as a net exporter, albeit with a much narrower margin than in recent months, with net exports of 24.3 mg in May. Exports of distillers dried grains – the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants – rebounded in May to 1,076,639 metric tons (mt). China sustained its status as the leading destination for U.S. distillers grains with 584,551 mt (54% of total exports) in May. However, the June export numbers (published in early August) are likely to reflect the abrupt cessation of distillers grains exports to China. Mexico ranked second in May with 166,694 mt (15% share), while South Korea (54,505 mt) and Vietnam (39,843 mt) rounded out the top markets. Year-to-date exports stood at 4,996,135 mt.