Thailand to export more cassava to China for ethanol production

12 January 2011 08:17  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Thailand’s exports of cassava to China for ethanol production are likely to increase this year amid aggressive efforts by Beijing to use the commodity as a principal alternative to grain feedstock, Commodore Research & Consultancy said in a report on Wednesday.

The total value of Thailand’s cassava chip trade jumped to $920m (€708.4m) last year, compared with $500m in 2009 and was likely to rise further, said Greg Harris, the author of the Commodore report.

Thailand is the world’s largest exporter of cassava and is estimated to have shipped around 4.5m tonnes of cassava chips in 2010, Harris said in the report.

About 4.4m tonnes, or 98% of Thailand’s cassava chip exports, were sent to China in 2010, the report said.

The surge in exports came on the back of a move by Chinese authorities in 2007 to stop authorising any new grain-based ethanol projects after efforts to produce ethanol from corn feedstock destabilised food prices, it said.

Last year, China’s Petroleum Flow Committee, an association of Chinese petroleum executives, recommended to China’s National Development and Reform Commission that any ongoing ethanol production derived from corn should be prohibited, according to the report.

“Since corn is no longer part of China’s ethanol strategy, cassava is taking on an important role as a principal alternative feedstock for ethanol production,” the report said.

While Chinese cassava production has risen to roughly 12m tonnes per year, China continues to import large quantities of cassava from Thailand, the New York-based consultancy said.

Thailand exported 4.1m tonnes of cassava chips in 2009 and 4.5m tonnes in 2010, from around 1.2m tons of cassava chips exported in 2008, the report added.

As of January 2010, Thailand had 17 ethanol plants running on either cassava or molasses with a total production capacity of 2.58m litres a day, according to the report.

Four cassava-based ethanol plants, with a total production capacity of 1.37m litres per day, are expected to start up by October this year in Thailand, the report added.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Nurluqman Suratman

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