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Trade Monitor
U.S. Ethanol Exports Slide in November; 2015 Confirmed as a Record Year for U.S. DDGS Exports

January 8, 2016

Trade, Exports


U.S. ethanol exports in November dropped 16% to 59.0 million gallons (mg), landing around 10 mg under the year-to-date monthly average according to RFA analysis of government data released yesterday. Once again, Canada was the top destination, receiving 23.2 mg of ethanol (39% of November exports). After being the top market in October, China slipped to second in November. Still, China imported a sizeable 23.2 mg, or 28% of total U.S. exports. Other leading markets in November were the Philippines (5.6 mg, or 10%), Mexico (3.9 mg, or 7%), South Korea (3.5 mg, or 6%) and Peru (3.3 mg, or 6%). Total year-to-date U.S. ethanol exports stood at 753.9 mg at the end of November, which implies annualized exports of 822 mg—similar to 2014 volumes.


November saw a 24% jump in the export of undenatured ethanol for fuel use, rising to 24.3 mg. Nine countries imported undenatured product, with the largest volumes heading to the Philippines (5.6 mg), China (5.5 mg), Mexico (3.7 mg), South Korea (3.5 mg) and Peru (3.3 mg). Exports of denatured fuel ethanol slumped 32% to 32.0 mg, chiefly distributed to Canada (21.0 mg, or 66%) and China (10.9 mg, or 34%). November exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use fell by 31% to 2.7 mg. Most product moved to Canada (2.3 mg, or 83%) and Mexico (210,067 gallons, or 8%).


The United States imported 20.7 mg of ethanol from Brazil in November. Year-to-date U.S. imports of ethanol have reached 83.9 mg, implying an annualized total of 91.5 mg, which would be slightly higher than 2014. In November, the United States held on to its net exporter status for the 27th straight month.


The emergence of China as an export customer continues to be a major development for the ethanol export trade. For perspective, Chinese monthly imports of U.S. ethanol from January 2005 to June 2015 averaged around just 9,000 gallons per month (with the exception of two outlier months in November 2013 and August 2014). In July 2015, however, China imported 7.6 million gallons. By October China logged a record 32.6 mg of U.S. imports, followed by 23.2 mg on the books for November.


November exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—declined for the fourth month in a row and fell below the 1 million metric ton (mt) mark for the first time since April. DDGS exports totaled 939,917 metric tons (mt) in November, with China still leading the pack at 284,278 mt (30%). Mexico (132,385 mt, or 14%), Turkey (103,238 mt, or 11%), Vietnam (65,638 mt, or 7%) and South Korea (59,356 mt, or 6%) remained the larger markets for U.S. product. Most countries pared back from October volumes, with China’s 23% decrease in demand (down 84,378 mt) most noticeable, as were declines in Mexico and Vietnam. However, large upswings in volumes exported to Turkey, Thailand and Spain helped to facilitate the change in market dynamics as China’s share narrowed to just 30% after peaking at 74% last May/June. Year-to-date U.S. DDGS exports of 11.6 million mt through November have already surpassed 2014 levels and have therefore earned 2015 a place in the record books. The trend through November indicates 2015 annualized exports of about 12.6 million mt of U.S. DDGS exports.


Ann Lewis

Ann Lewis is a Research Analyst at RFA.