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U.S. Ethanol Exports Continue to Surge in November, as Shipments to Brazil Swell

January 6, 2017


The United States exported 121.9 million gallons (mg) of ethanol in November—down 7% from October's huge total, but still the third-largest monthly total in five years, according to government trade data released today and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. Brazil was the top market again in November, followed by Canada and China. Year-to-date exports stood at 947.4 mg, implying an annual total of 1.034 billion gallons for calendar year 2016. Shipments to Brazil jumped to 50.9 mg in November, representing 42% of the monthly total and making Brazil the top destination for U.S. ethanol for the second straight month. Exports to Brazil have been rising steadily since May, when the country recorded 6 mg of imports from the U.S. Canada scaled back from the prior month as 24.8 mg (20% of U.S. ethanol exports) moved north of the border in November. Meanwhile China increased its purchases of U.S. ethanol, pulling in 19.8 mg (16%) and the country's largest monthly volume since April. With over three-fourths of total exports heading to the Big Three, the remaining volumes headed to India (11.3 mg, or 9%), Peru (5.1 mg, or 4%), South Korea (3.9 mg, or 3%) and Mexico (2.8 mg, or 2%). With only one month left in the calendar year, it's still a toss-up between Canada and Brazil as our largest customer for 2016 as each maintains 24% of U.S. ethanol export market share through November, with China falling behind at 19%. Sales of undenatured fuel ethanol in November increased by 9% over last month's record-breaking level to a new high of 76.0 mg. Brazil's draw of 48.9 mg was equivalent to two-thirds of all undenatured exports and a 22% increase over the prior month. The remaining undenatured export volume was primarily shared by India (11.2 mg), China (6.6 mg), South Korea (3.8 mg), Mexico (2.5 mg) and Peru (2.1 mg). November exports of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol were 41.5 mg, denoting a 13 mg (23%) decline from October. The primary export markets were Canada (23.4 mg, or 56%) and China (13.2 mg, or 32%), with Peru (3.0 mg) and Brazil (1.9 mg) taking up much of the remainder. Sales of denatured ethanol for non-fuel use lost some of the momentum gained the prior month with 3.8 mg shipped, a 29% decrease. Nigeria (2.3 mg) and Canada (1.4 mg) maintained their grip on exports with 97% of market share combined. November sales of undenatured fuel for non-fuel, non-beverage use decreased by 75%, returning to a more normal volume of 525,682 gallons. Mexico (224,578 gal.), Singapore (86,240 gal.) and India (65,509 gal.) are the largest importers. As for ethanol imports, November was the third month this year with no fuel ethanol entering the United States. Stagnant year-to-date fuel ethanol imports of 33.7 mg suggest the U.S. is on pace to import roughly 37 mg in 2016, the lowest since 2010. U.S. exports of distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product from dry mill ethanol production—experienced another month of modest growth, up 1% to 1,006,879 metric tons (mt). Fading Chinese import demand has been replaced by new export opportunities parsed out in smaller shares in several markets across the globe. Vietnam was the top importer of U.S. DDGS in November, buying 242,565 mt—nearly a quarter of all U.S. exports and twice the volume brought into the country the prior month. However, new phytosanitary/fumigation requirements took effect in Vietnam in December, meaning shipments to that market likely slid following the November boom. Exports to Mexico saw a 50% increase over October sales, translating to 196,968 mt (20% of exports) heading south of the border. Thailand (86,706 mt, or 9%), South Korea (75,895 mt, or 8%) and Turkey (69,350 mt, or 7%) remained consistent U.S. trading partners, while Chinese imports slunk to a two-year monthly low of 61,575 mt (6%). Through November, DDGS exports stood at 10.6 million mt, indicating an annualized total of 11.6 million mt.