US ethanol exports drop, DDGS exports surge

By Holly Jessen | July 10, 2015

The most recent government data shows ethanol exports hit the lowest level so far this year while distillers grains exports to China set a new record, accounting for 74 percent of total U.S. DDGS exports, according to an analysis recently released by the Renewable Fuels Association.

Exports of U.S. denatured and undenatured ethanol dropped to 64.6 million gallons exported in May, a 14 percent decrease from the previous month. Although it’s the second month in a row that exports have decreased, total exports of 377.1 million gallons through May of this year imply an annualized total of 905 million gallons for 2015. That’s the highest total export numbers for all years but the record-breaking numbers set in 2011, wrote Ann Lewis, research analyst for RFA, in a press release.

The U.S. has remained in a position of net exporter of ethanol for 22 straight months as of May. In addition, imports of ethanol dropped dramatically in May. In all, the U.S. received 3.2 million gallons of denatured ethanol from the Netherlands and 33 million gallons from Germany. Through May, total imports sit at 16.4 million gallons, or less than one third of total imports in the same time period in 2014.  

Exports of distillers grains jumped 23 percent in May, over April’s numbers. That’s the second biggest monthly increase on record, Lewis said. In all, May shipments came to 1,171,916 metric tons. Notably, that’s only the third time that monthly exports have topped the 1.1 million metric ton mark. China gobbled up 864,777 metric tons of that, a historic high. “However, market gains in other regions have suffered in the wake of China’s return, with larger losses seen in Mexico, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia,” she said.

Mexico was in the No. 2 slot, bringing in 99,898 metric tons, or 9 percent of exports. After that came Canada (26,164 metric tons), Egypt (21,397 metric tons), Colombia (19,685 metric tons) and Vietnam (19,580 metric tons). “Year-to-date exports for 2015 are 4.5 million metric tons, implying an annualized 10.89 million metric tons—more than a fourth of total U.S. production,” she said.

For more information, see RFA’s analysis at its website.