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Robust U.S. Ethanol Exports Continued in March; DDGS Exports to China Return to Near-Normal Levels

May 6, 2015


U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol in March totaled 83.8 million gallons (mg), down slightly from February, according to RFA analysis of government data released today. While down 1.6% from February, March exports represented the third-highest monthly volume in the last 12 months. Year-to-date exports stood at 237.7 mg – in line with exports during the same period last year, and implying an annualized total of 951 mg for 2015. Brazil (25.1 mg) and Canada (17.3 mg) accounted for half of total U.S. ethanol exports in March, followed by Oman (6.8 mg, or 8%) and South Korea (6.6 mg, or 8%). The Netherlands, Tunisia and Nigeria were other key destinations in March. March exports of denatured ethanol for fuel increased 43% over February, rising to 36.3 mg. Canada was again the chief customer, with 15.5 mg moving across the border. Oman was a key importer for the first time in two years, securing one-fifth of U.S. denatured ethanol (6.8 mg). Tunisia (5.3 mg), the Netherlands (4.2 mg) and the United Arab Emirates (3.2 mg) were other major players in the denatured market. March exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use totaled 44.0 mg, a 23% drop from February's high. Exports shipped primarily to Brazil (25.1 mg, or 57%), South Korea (5.4 mg), Nigeria (3.3 mg) and Jamaica (2.7 mg). March exports of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use retreated to more normal levels following the prior month's spike, with the U.S. shipping 500,313 gallons. The United States exported 3.1 mg of denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage in March, more than 50% higher than the prior month. Imports for the month of March were trimmed down to just 1,368 gallons of denatured ethanol from Germany and 528 gallons of undenatured ethanol from Brazil. Total imports for the first three months of 2015 are only one-quarter of the level recorded during the same period last year (2.6 mg vs. 10.0 mg). As a result, the U.S. boasted net exporter status for its nineteenth straight month. In fact, net exports in March reached their second-highest level since late 2011. March exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) – the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants – rose for the fourth consecutive month. DDGS exports totaled 923,515 metric tons (mt), up 15% from February. Exports to China returned to fairly normal levels after the recent lull, with half of March U.S. shipments landing in that country (469,354 mt). U.S. DDGS exports to the rest of the world have not picked up, however, with neighboring Mexico (141,500 mt) and Canada (46,334 mt) and Southeast Asian countries Vietnam (45,464 mt) and Thailand (31,056 mt) capturing most of the remaining global market. Year-to-date exports for 2015 are 2.4 million mt, implying an annualized 9.74 million mt in DDGS. But if normal shipments to China resume on an ongoing basis, 2015 theoretically could see total exports reach the 11 million mark