Government data released last week showed the U.S. exported 76.3 million gallons (mg) of ethanol (denatured and undenatured, non-beverage) in January. This marks the highest total ever for the first month of the year, which is typically a slow month for U.S. ethanol exports. January 2012 exports were 33 percent above January 2011 totals and nearly six times higher than January 2010. Of the total, 51.8 mg (68 percent) was denatured, while 24.5 mg (32 percent) was undenatured.

Brazil was again the top destination for U.S. exports, receiving a total of 26.4 mg. Exports to Brazil fell from previous months, due largely to that nation's recent decision to reduce the mandatory ethanol blend level from 25 percent to 20 percent. The Brazilian state of Sao Paulo also recently re-instituted a sales tax on imported ethanol at the point of customs entry, while at the same time deferring payment of the tax for domestic-origin product.

For more information on the Top Five importing countries and the 7 percent increase over December shipments is distiller grain exports, read the E-xchange blog post by RFA's Vice President of Research and Analysis, Geoff Cooper.