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Trade Monitor
April Another Strong Month for U.S. Ethanol and DDGS Exports

June 6, 2018

Trade, Exports


U.S. ethanol exports totaled 162.3 million gallons (mg) in April, according to government data released this morning and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA). This represents a 25% drop from the near-record export volume recorded in March, but still tallied as the fourth-largest monthly export volume in six years. Brazil was the leading destination for U.S. ethanol exports for the sixth straight month, receiving 61.0 mg (38% of total exports), although shipments to the country scaled back by 36% from March.


Canada received 27.6 mg of U.S. ethanol in April, up 13% from March and a six-month high (17% market share). U.S. ethanol exports also flourished in several previously tepid markets in April, including Oman (12.6 mg, up 254% from March) and the Netherlands (11.4 mg, up 583%). The U.S. also continued modest export growth in India with a 4% gain over March with 12.3 mg. As predicted, China stepped completely out of the market for the first time in six months, as implementation of the additional 15% import duty shut out U.S. product. Year-to-date exports stood at 684.3 mg through April—44% stronger than the first four months of 2017—implying a record annualized export volume of 2.05 billion gallons.


Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol slipped to 113.1 mg, receding 10% from March volumes. Brazil was the top destination for undenatured fuel ethanol at 60.9 mg. while Oman took in a record volume of 12.6 mg of U.S. undenatured product. Undenatured exports to India expanded 4% to 12.3 mg, while the United Arab Emirates (7.8 mg), the Philippines (4.8 mg), South Korea (3.8 mg), Jamaica (3.5 mg), and Peru (2.4 mg) re-entered the market after a quiet March.


April exports of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol dropped 43% from the prior month to 46.1 mg as nine of the top 10 customers in March significantly scaled back. Canada was the exception with a 9% jump to 25.8 mg of denatured fuel imports, reflecting three straight months of growth. Five countries accounted for the remaining 44% of U.S. denatured fuel exports, including the Netherlands (9.2 mg, up from zero imports), Colombia (3.9 mg), South Korea (3.2 mg), Peru (2.8 mg), and Switzerland (1.0 mg).


Overseas sales of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes collectively shrank 65% to 2.4 mg and 0.8 mg, respectively. The bulk of denatured non-fuel product shipped to Canada (1.8 mg) and South Korea (0.5 mg), while Japan was the leading market for non-fuel undenatured ethanol (0.6 mg).


There were no U.S. imports on record in April. Only 1.6 mg of Brazilian ethanol has been imported thus far in 2018, according to the monthly data.


U.S. exports of dried distillers grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product generated by dry mill ethanol plants—rallied in April to a six-month high of 997,633 metric tons (mt), up 10%. Shipments to top customer Mexico (representing 18% of total exports) swelled by 20% over March to 182,642 mg. Trade with our largest consistent Asian markets of Vietnam (116,842 mt, up 3%), South Korea (96,673 mt, down 6%), and Thailand (88,790 mt, down 11%) fluctuated within typical ranges. Meanwhile Turkey nearly doubled its March imports with 82,723 mt of U.S. DDGS entering the country, representing a six-month high. Year-to-date exports stand at 3.64 million mt, implying an annualized export total of 10.9 million mt.


Ann Lewis