Ethanol, distillers grains exports hit lowest level of 2012

By Holly Jessen | January 14, 2013

Exports of U.S. ethanol and distillers grains hit the lowest level of the year in November, down 25 percent and 16 percent respectively, compared to October. Shipments of exported denatured and undenatured (non-beverage) ethanol totaled 40.4 million gallons in November while the total for distillers grains was 518,396 metric tons, according to government data released Jan. 11.

 “November exports of both ethanol and distillers grains reflect the difficult operating environment following last summer’s historic drought,” said Geoff Cooper, vice president of research and analysis for the Renewable Fuels Association. “Still, year-to-date exports tallied 683.7 (million gallons of ethanol) through November, indicating an annualized total of 745.8 (million gallons) for the 2012 calendar year.”

2011 was a record year for ethanol exports, with more than 1.19 billion gallons of U.S. ethanol exported.  In 2010, 396 million gallons of U.S. ethanol were exported.

In 2012, ethanol imports to the U.S. have risen. Since August, ethanol imports have topped exports, putting the net export number at a negative. In November, RFA calculated that net exports of ethanol were at negative 42.8 million gallons. (See the chart.)

Fuel ethanol imports in November added up to 83.2 million gallons, 63.9 million gallons of which came from Brazil. The year-to-date total for ethanol imports stands at 466.5 million gallons, meaning the U.S. has still exported more ethanol in 2012 than it has imported.

For the first 11 months of 2012, the U.S. exported 6.89 million metric tons of distillers grains, which implies an annualized total of 7.52 million metric tons, Cooper said. In 2011, 7.64 million metric tons of distillers grains were exported.