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Ethanol Exports Dial Back to Lowest Level of 2015 as Distillers Grain Exports to China Set Record

July 7, 2015


U.S. exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol in May retreated for the second month in a row, according to RFA analysis of government data released today. Exports dropped 14% from April to 64.6 million gallons (mg), with the largest cutbacks in Tunisia, India, the Netherlands and the Philippines. Canada (19.3 mg, or 30%), Brazil (13.8 mg, or 21%) and Oman (12.6 mg, or 20%) accounted for the bulk of exports in May, rounded out by the Philippines (4.1 mg) and Mexico (4.0 mg). Year-to-date exports of 377.1 mg implied an annualized total of 905 mg for 2015, which would surpass all years but 2011. The United States reduced its exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use by 34%, dropping from 42.8 mg in April to 28.4 mg in May. Top customer Brazil once again cut U.S. ethanol imports (13.8 mg, or 49%), while the Philippines (4.0 mg), Mexico (3.8 mg) and Nigeria (3.4 mg) received significant volumes. May exports of denatured ethanol fuel increased 13% to 33.5 mg, surpassing shipments of undenatured product for the first time since October 2014. Canada (17.2 mg), Oman (12.6 mg) and Peru (3.5 mg) accounted for virtually all of the volume exported. The United States exported 545,652 gallons of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use and 2.2mg of denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use in May, in line with recent norms. Inbound shipments of ethanol were dramatically lower in May, with the U.S. taking delivery of 3.2 mg of denatured product from the Netherlands and 33 gallons from Germany. Total year-to-date imports of 16.4 mg are less than a third of imports at this time last year. In May, the U.S. claimed its 22nd month in a row as a net exporter. May exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—surged 23% over April levels and marked the second biggest monthly jump on record. May shipments were 1,171,916 metric tons (mt), topping the 1.1 million mt mark for only the third time. Monthly exports to China were at an historic high of 864,777 mt in May—notably assuming the largest market share to date at 74% of total U.S. DDGS exports. However, market gains in other regions have suffered in the wake of China's return, with larger losses seen in Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia. Mexico (99,898 mt, or 9% of exports), Canada (26,164 mt), Egypt (21,397 mt), Colombia (19,685 mt) and Vietnam (19,580 mt) captured most of the remaining global market for U.S. DDGS. Year-to-date exports for 2015 are 4.5 million mt, implying an annualized 10.89 million mt—more than a fourth of total U.S. production.