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U.S. Ethanol Exports Sank in August; DDGS Shipments Down Slightly

October 7, 2015


U.S. ethanol exports fell in August to the lowest monthly volume in more than two years, according to RFA analysis of government data released today. At 50.1 million gallons (mg), total ethanol shipments in August were 35% lower than in July, falling by 27.1 mg. Ninety percent of exports were destined for only 10 countries, with the majority of shipments split between Canada (21.4 mg, or 43% of total exports) and Tunisia (12.6 mg, or 25% of total). China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg), South Korea (2.8 mg) and Mexico (2.0 mg) account for much of the remaining balance. Once again, Brazil remained a minor player in the U.S. ethanol export market, taking in just 1.7 mg (compared to 25.1 mg only 5 months ago). Total U.S. ethanol exports for the first eight months of 2015 stood at 564.5 mg, indicating an annualized rate of 847 mg. August exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use fell 44% from July to 26.2 mg. Nearly half of those exports moved to Tunisia (12.6 mg), with China (3.3 mg), the Philippines (3.0 mg) and South Korea (2.7 mg) also pulling in notable volumes. Exports of denatured ethanol fuel decreased by 24% from July, down to 20.1 mg. This is the lowest denatured volume since August 2010. Canada took the lion's share of denatured product at 18.1 mg (90% of exports), with Jamaica, Singapore and Turkey receiving much smaller volumes. The United States exported 356,211 gallons of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use, a decrease of 39% over July. Denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes was the only product to see any upward movement over the prior month, with nearly all of the 3.4 mg crossing the border to Canada. After months of virtually nonexistent fuel ethanol imports, the United States saw 15.7 mg enter the country in August—greater than the combined imports from the past 5 months. All but 3% of total imports originated in Brazil (11.8 mg undenatured, 3.8 mg denatured), with Spain and Sweden responsible for the remainder. At 32.8 mg, year-to-date imports are just half of last year's total at this point. In August, the United States boasted a net exporter status for two years straight. August exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—faded 6% from the record high logged in July to a still-sizable 1,279,396 metric tons (mt). Prominent trading partner China pulled back in August, importing 655,153 mt of DDGS. China received roughly half of U.S. DDGS exports in August, compared to the 65-74% market share seen in recent months. Mexico (126,096 mt, or 10% of exports), South Korea (108,381 mt), Vietnam (70,274 mt) and Thailand (30,581 mt) remained as other top destinations for U.S. product again in August. Shippers successfully found alternative markets given the lull in China, with sizable growth in exports in Southeast Asia, Great Britain and the Middle East. Total U.S. DDGS exports for the year are 8.5 million mt, implying an annualized total of 12.7 million mt.