U.S. ethanol exports accelerated to a 15-month best in January, increasing 3 percent to 151.2 million gallons, according to data issued this month by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Association. Brazil purchased nearly twice as much U.S. ethanol as in December, solidly outpacing shipments to Canada.

Two-thirds of all U.S. ethanol exports in January landed in Brazil, Canada and India.

  • Brazil bought 58.2 million gallons, an increase of 89 percent.
  • Canada bought 24.8 million gallons, a decrease of 22 percent.
  • India bought 13.3 million gallons, a decrease of 52 percent.

U.S. shippers also sent sizable volumes to the Netherlands – 12.9 million gallons, an increase of 19 percent – and South Korea – 12.6 million gallons, a decrease of 19 percent. January’s export pace is equivalent to an annualized export volume of 1.8 billion gallons.

Shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol leapt to the best volume since April 2018, with an increase of 40 percent to 95.7 million gallons. The majority was imported by Brazil – 58.2 million gallons, or 61 percent of the January undenatured export market. Most of the remaining volumes were secured by the Netherlands at 12.9 million gallons, India at 11.7 million gallons and the Philippines at 6.3 million gallons.

Sales of U.S. denatured fuel ethanol eased to a three-month worst of 48.1 million gallons, 37 percent less than December volumes. Canada reduced its purchases by 23 percent to 23.6 million gallons, yet it still captured half of denatured exports. South Korea at 10.4 million gallons, Peru at 7.3 million gallons and Colombia at 2.5 million gallons were other large markets.

Exports of U.S. ethanol for non-fuel non-beverage purposes bounced back, almost quadrupling to 7.5 million gallons. Most product shipped to Nigeria – 4 million gallons undenatured – and to Colombia – 1.4 million gallons undenatured.

There were essentially no U.S. imports on record in January following a seven-month stretch of shipments.

U.S. exports of dried distillers grains – the animal-feed co-product generated by dry-mill ethanol plants – increased by 27 percent in January to 976,688 metric tons. Sales to Mexico rallied after a December dip, increasing 19 percent to 169,854 metric tons and capturing 17 percent of the global market.

  • Shippers exported 129,058 metric tons to South Korea, an increase of 3 percent.
  • Shippers exported 115,632 metric tons to Indonesia, an increase of 21 percent to a record.
  • Shippers exported 86,334 metric tons to Turkey, an increase from zero in December.

The remaining half of dried-distillers-grains exports were dispersed among another 32 countries, including Thailand at 72,725 metric tons, Vietnam at 55,393 metric tons and Japan at 52,912 metric tons. January dried-distillers-grains sales imply an annualized export volume of 11.7 million metric tons.

Ann Lewis is a senior analyst with the Renewable Fuels Association, a trade association for America’s ethanol industry. Visit ethanolrfa.org for more information.