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Ethanol Exports Surge in December

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U.S. ethanol exports finished the year on a high note, with 81.7 million gallons (mg) of product shipping out to both emerging and longtime markets. Canada was the top destination in December, receiving 21.3 mg. Oman (13.4 mg), China (10.6 mg), the Philippines (8.8 mg), and the Netherlands (8.8 mg) were other leading importers of U.S. ethanol. December ethanol exports were up 39% over November, reaching their highest monthly level since March. As documented in a new statistical report released by the Renewable Fuels Association last week, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 836 mg in 2015—identical to the 2014 final tally. The RFA report provides details on top export destinations, shifts in the marketplace, ethanol import volumes, the value of exports, and other key data regarding U.S. ethanol trade in 2015.

Denatured fuel ethanol exports totaled 50.3 mg in December, the highest monthly total of the year and up 57% from November. At 19.3 mg, Canada was once again the leading importer of denatured product. Meanwhile, Oman imported sizeable volumes (13.4 mg) of denatured fuel ethanol for just the third time on record. Relative newcomer China (10.6 mg), the Netherlands (4.3 mg), and Peru (2.6 mg) were other top spots for denatured fuel ethanol exports. December exports of undenatured fuel ethanol tallied at 28.6 mg, up 18% from November. The Philippines (8.8 mg), Brazil (6.4 mg), the Netherlands (4.5 mg), Belgium-Luxembourg (2.6 mg), and Mexico (2.2 mg) were the top five markets for undenatured product in December. Exports of denatured and undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes were 2.8 mg, with Canada receiving 2.0 mg.

U.S. fuel ethanol imports fell to 9.4 mg in December, less than half of the November import volume. Total imports of fuel ethanol finished the year at 93.2 mg, up slightly from 2014. More than 99% of December imports originated in Brazil, with the remaining imports coming from Germany.

Exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS)—the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants—rebounded slightly in December, with 988,356 metric tons (mt) of outbound shipments. That was up 5% from November, but still well below monthly export levels recorded from May through October. DDGS exports finished the year at 12.55 million mt, a new annual record.

China remained as the top market for U.S. DDGS exports in December, despite setting an 11-month low. China received 226,049 mt, down 20% from November and less than one-quarter of the DDGS volume imported as recently as July. Fortunately, other markets continued to step up their imports, with big increases seen in Mexico (166,321 mt), South Korea (110,916 mt), Canada (66,002 mt), and Vietnam (65,703 mt). For the full calendar year, China was the top market, receiving 6.3 million mt, or 50% of total exports. Mexico was the No. 2 market at 1.65 million mt (13%), while Vietnam (660,032 mt), South Korea (643,572 mt), and Canada (511,783 mt) rounded out the top five.