According to government data released this week, U.S. ethanol exports totaled 621.5 million gallons (mg) in 2013, the third-highest annual total on record. Canada was by far the leading export market for the year, receiving 322 mg—or 52% of the total. The Philippines ranked second with 51.5 mg of imports, while Brazil (43.9 mg), United Arab Emirates (39.5 mg), and Mexico (23.6 mg) 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 CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Meanwhile, U.S. ethanol imports tallied 395.2 mg for the year, down 27% from 2012 and well below the levels envisioned by EPA (600-800 mg) 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 mg (86%) directly, while re-exports through the Caribbean Basin countries of Jamaica, Costa Rica and El Salvador accounted for the remainder.

The United States was a net exporter of 226.3 mg in 2013, roughly a 24% increase over 2012 net exports.

December ethanol exports totaled 64 mg, the second-highest monthly total of the year. Canada (29.2 mg) was the top destination in December, followed by Brazil (14.3 mg), India (4.9 mg), and the Philippines (3.7 mg). Peru, Tunisia, and South Korea were other leading markets in December. Imports slowed to a trickle in December, with just 4.5 mg 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 metric tons (mmt) in 2013. The total was up 31% from 2012 and eclipsed the previous record of 9.0 mmt set in 2010. China was the leading destination for U.S. distillers grains, receiving 4.49 mmt, or 46% of the total. Mexico ranked second with 1.28 mmt, while Canada was third with 474,495 metric tons (mt). For the month of December, exports totaled 990,331 mt, down slightly from November’s record. China (551,443 mt) was the month’s top importer, followed by Mexico (86,807 mt) and South Korea (46,768 mt).

Dinneen noted, “Belying the food vs. fuel canard is the fact that U.S. ethanol companies also produced 35.5 million metric tons of high-quality feed in the most recent marketing year—enough to feed the beef cattle to make 45 billion quarter-pound hamburger patties or six patties for every person on the planet. There is a growing demand for high protein feed across the globe. We’re ready to supply it!”