WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — According to government data released on Feb. 6, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 621.5 million gallons in 2013, the third-highest annual total on record, the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) said. 

Canada was by far the leading export market for the year, receiving 322 million gallons — or 52% of the total. The Philippines ranked second with 51.5 million gallons of imports, while Brazil (43.9 million gallons), United Arab Emirates (39.5 million gallons), and Mexico (23.6 million gallons) rounded out the top five. Of total export shipments, 67% were classified as denatured for fuel use, 31% were undenatured for fuel use, and 2% were denatured and undenatured for non-fuel, non-beverage purposes.

“U.S. produced ethanol is the world’s lowest cost liquid transportation fuel. As such, we anticipate that export opportunities will continue to grow as countries across the globe recognize the air quality, high octane and superior performance of renewable ethanol,” said Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the RFA.

Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol imports tallied 395.2 million gallons for the year, down 27% from 2012 and well below the levels envisioned by EPA (600-800 million gallons) for the purposes of meeting the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) advanced biofuel requirements. Instead, those requirements were largely satisfied with domestically-produced biodiesel. Brazil accounted for 341.5 million gallons (86%) directly, while re-exports through the Caribbean Basin countries of Jamaica, Costa Rica and El Salvador accounted for the remainder.

The U.S. was a net exporter of 226.3 million gallons in 2013, roughly a 24% increase over 2012 net exports.

December ethanol exports totaled 64 million gallons, the second-highest monthly total of the year. Canada (29.2 million gallons) was the top destination in December, followed by Brazil (14.3 million gallons), India (4.9 million gallons) and the Philippines (3.7 million gallons). Peru, Tunisia and South Korea were other leading markets in December. Imports slowed to a trickle in December, with just 4.5 million gallons coming in from Brazil.

Exports of distillers grains — the animal feed co-product manufactured by ethanol dry mills — set a new record of 9.7 million tonnes in 2013. The total was up 31% from 2012 and eclipsed the previous record of 9 million tonnes set in 2010. China was the leading destination for U.S. distillers grains, receiving 4.49 million tonnes, or 46% of the total. 

Mexico ranked second with 1.28 million tonnes, while Canada was third with 474,495 tonnes. For the month of December, exports totaled 990,331 tonnes, down slightly from November’s record. China (551,443 tonnes) was the month’s top importer, followed by Mexico (86,807 tonnes) and South Korea (46,768 tonnes).