WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. ethanol exports had a strong start in 2016, expanding 7% over December volumes to a 14-month high, according to a Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) analysis of government data released March 4.

The industry shipped 87.1 million gallons, with China taking a third of the market at 29.4 million gallons — rivaling the record of 32.6 million gallons to China last October. Meanwhile, the long-time top export destination of Canada received just 13.7 million gallons — the lowest volume of exports north of the border since October 2010. The United Arab Emirates (10.9 million gallons) and South Korea (10.4 million gallons) were other top markets in January. Brazil brought in a fairly sizable volume (6.6 million gallons) considering its recent absenteeism from the U.S. export picture. January’s robust exports equate to 1.05 billion gallons on an annualized basis.

Denatured fuel ethanol exports saw a 29% month-on-month increase to 65 million gallons in January. China grabbed 29.4 million gallons (45%) of that market, with Canada (12.2 million gallons, or 19%), the UAE (8.1 million gallons, or 12%) and South Korea (5.9 million gallons, or 9%) continuing as stable partners. January exports of undenatured ethanol for fuel use fell 29% from December to 20.2 million gallons. Brazil (6.6 million gallons) and South Korea (4.5 million gallons) received 55% of undenatured fuel exports, while the Philippines (2.9 million gallons), the UAE (2.8 million gallons), Mexico (2.2 million gallons) and Peru (1.1 million gallons) rounded out our primary customers. Sales of undenatured ethanol for non-fuel, non-beverage use hit the lowest level since February 2013, dipping 64% to 212,369 gallons. Similarly, denatured non-fuel use ethanol exports slumped 21% to 1.7 million gallons — the lowest volume in over a year. The U.S. kept exports of non-fuel product close to home with 78% of total shipping to Canada and 9% to Mexico.

As for imports, the U.S. imported a small amount of ethanol for fuel use in January. Inbound shipments came from Canada (500 gallons) and the Netherlands (165 gallons). January U.S. net exports of 87.1 mg were the highest since the record month of December 2011.

January exports of U.S. distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) — the animal feed co-product manufactured by dry mill ethanol plants — fell 19% from January to 800,580 tonnes. DDGS exports to China tallied at 218,961 tonnes, representing a 3% decrease over December volumes but an increase in market share (27% of total U.S. exports vs. 23% in December). DDGS exports to Mexico were 195,669 tonnes (24%), with smaller shipments distributed across several countries including Ireland (48,456 tonnes), Canada (47,617 tonnes), Thailand (46,838 tonnes), Vietnam (45,744 tonnes) and South Korea (45,046 tonnes). Contracting volumes in China, Spain and Turkey were responsible for a substantial portion of the month-on-month decrease in exports, with shipments to Mexico offsetting those losses.