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U.S. Ethanol Exports Slip in September, as Shipments to Brazil Sag

November 3, 2017


U.S. ethanol exports totaled 86.4 million gallons (mg) in September, down 16% from August shipments, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable fuels Association (RFA). Canada was again the top destination for U.S. exports at 28.8 mg (one-third of total exports), a decrease of 5% from August. India increased its intake of U.S. product by 126% to 20.3 mg, edging out Brazil as the second-leading export destination in September. U.S. ethanol exports to all destinations for the first three quarters of 2017 stood at 992.9 mg, indicating an annualized export volume of 1.32 billion gallons. For the first time in 16 months, Brazil was not one of the top two customers of U.S. ethanol exports—likely the result of the nation's implementation in early September of a 20% tariff on ethanol imports. Ethanol exports to Brazil decreased to 19.1 mg, down 29% from August and 70% below the peak of 64.3 mg in May. Canada, India and Brazil accounted for a whopping 79% of all shipments in September while another 20% was parsed out amongst nine other markets. September exports of undenatured fuel ethanol increased by 5% to 48.7 mg. India imported 20.3 mg after an August absence. The Philippines (2.1 mg), Netherlands (2.1 mg), Mexico (1.7 mg), and Jamaica (1.5 mg) rounded out the top five largest markets for undenatured product. U.S. exports of denatured fuel ethanol decreased in September by 39% to 31.7 mg. Both Canada (27.8 mg, or 88%) and Peru (2.3 mg) cut their purchases by 5% from August, while Oman and India were quiet after making larger purchases in August. Overseas sales of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes expanded to the highest volume in nine months at 3.3 mg. Belgium (1.3 mg) and Sweden (1.3 mg) were the largest markets. Exports of denatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes decreased 25% to 2.7 mg, with South Korea (1.2 mg) and Canada (1.0 mg) as our primary customers. For the fifth straight month this year, the United States recorded meaningful fuel ethanol import volumes with 10.7 mg of Brazilian undenatured ethanol on the books in September. Year-to-date fuel ethanol imports total 52.8 mg, indicating an annualized volume of 70.4 mg. Exports of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—expanded 19% to 903,290 metric tons (mt) in September. The top six customers increased purchases over August levels, with Mexico remaining the top destination at 179,404 mt (up 4%). Other leading export markets included Indonesia (90,737 mt, up 44%), Turkey (85,383 mt, up 18%), South Korea (84,793 mt, up 40%), and Thailand (58,378, up 7%). Notably, Vietnam showed signs of recovering from the phytosanitary sanctions that ended in September, with volumes more than doubling to 7,384 mt. Total year-to-date DDGS exports to all countries stood at 8.2 mmt through September, indicating an annualized total of 10.94 mmt.