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U.S. ethanol exports surge in June

Jim Parkin iStock ethanol plant with corn field in the front
Total exports from the first half of 2019 were 19% lower than first half of 2018.

U.S. ethanol exports increased to 128.4 million gal. in June, according to data issued by the government and analyzed by the Renewable Fuels Assn. (RFA). This was a 29% jump from May.

Total exports for the first half of the year stood at 759.9 million gal. — 19% lower than the first six months of 2018. This implies an annualized export volume of 1.52 billion gal., which, if realized, would be the second-largest volume on record.

According to Ann Lewis, research analyst for RFA, Canada was the top export destination in June for the second consecutive month, with a 28% increase in sales to 29.5 million gal. of ethanol. Shipments to Brazil nearly tripled in June to 28.0 million gal., up 164% after sales plummeted 74% in May. India was the third-largest destination at 21.9 million gal., a 52% gain over the prior month. Other top importers of American ethanol included South Korea (6.8 million gal., down 24%), Colombia (6.8 million gal., down 25%), Oman (6.3 million gal.) and Peru (6.1 million gal.).

June shipments of U.S. undenatured fuel ethanol were 64.0 million gal., a gain of 31% following a drop in May. Sales to the U.S.'s two largest customers, Brazil (25.6 million gal., up 15 million gal.) and India (18.9 million gal., up 4.5 million gal.), improved by an average of 78% in June and accounted for 70% of the market for undenatured fuel. Other key destinations were Spain (5.8 million gal.) and Mexico (3.5 million gal.).

U.S. exports of denatured fuel ethanol experienced a 16% upturn in June at 53.5 million gal. This, Lewis noted, included a 30% bump in sales to Canada at 28.1 million gal., which accounted for half of American product exported. Oman (6.3 million gal.), Peru (6.1 million gal.) and Colombia (6.0 million gal.) were other major markets.

U.S. sales of ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes rallied in June as 10.9 million gal. entered the global marketplace, more than 6 million gal. above May volumes. U.S. shippers exported 7.1 million gal. of undenatured product, with the bulk distributed to Brazil (2.4 million gal.), Saudi Arabia (2.1 million gal.), South Korea, Colombia and Canada. India (3.0 million gal.) sourced most exported denatured product for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes.

RFA reported that the U.S. imported 24.0 million gal. of undenatured fuel ethanol from Brazil in June. This was the largest monthly volume of foreign ethanol to enter the U.S. since August 2018, Lewis said. Total imports for the first half of the year stood at 47.9 million gal., compared to 1.6 million gal. for the first six months of 2018. This implies an annualized import volume of 95.7 million gal. for 2019, which, if realized, would represent the largest volume in six years.

According to RFA, U.S. exports of dried distillers grains pared back 6% to 962,592 metric tons in June after experiencing a boost during the previous month. Mexico was again the top customer despite a 29% decline in sales, purchasing 162,887 mt. Dried distillers grains exports to Vietnam shot up 37% to a seven-month high of 125,523 mt. Other key customers were South Korea (114,564 mt, up 4%), Indonesia (82,334 mt, up 10%), Canada (71,384 mt, up 20%) and Turkey (71,326 mt, down 39%).

Lewis pointed out that shipments to these six top markets represented two-thirds of all global sales, with the remaining volumes distributed among another 30 countries.

RFA relayed that U.S. exports of distillers grains for the first half of 2019 were 5.35 million mt, 5% lower than the first six months of 2018. This implies an annualized export volume of 10.70 million mt, the group noted.

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