Brazilian sugar harvest sees record output; ethanol sales rise

14 January 2014 17:08  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The Brazilian sugar centre-south harvest season rose 12% from the previous season and reached a historical high of 594m tonnes of sugar cane output, leading to both higher ethanol production and domestic sales year over year, although exports declined, the country's sugar industry association, UNICA, said on Tuesday.

The increase from the previous year was fully applied to increased production of biofuels, “leading to benefits not just for the environment and consumers but to [state oil company] Petrobras with a reduction in gasoline imports that helped the country’s balance of trade”, association director Antonio de Padua said.

In December, 24m tonnes of sugar cane were crushed, of which 18m were crushed in the first half of the month and 6m tonnes in the second half, the association said, adding that the monthly production represented nearly a 16% increase from December 2012.

“The present harvest season is practically finished because few units will remain active, with marginal production,” Padua said.

The sugar cane season began in April.

Ethanol production from April to the end of 2013 reached 25.37bn litres (6.7bn gals), an increase of 19% over the same period last year. A total of 11.02bn litres were anhydrous ethanol, while the other 14.36 litres were hydrous ethanol.

The volumes do not include production from corn in the Mato Grosso region, which represented 3.9 million litres of anhydrous ethanol and 7.3 million litres of hydrous ethanol.

Of the total 19.5bn litres of sugar-based ethanol produced in the centre-south region during the 2013-2014 harvest-crush season, only some 2.3bn litres were destined for export while 17.2bn litres were sold in the domestic market, UNICA said.

Overall, total ethanol sales were 15% higher than in the previous season, the association said, adding that stocks will be enough to supply the market during the period between the harvest seasons.

“Despite the increase in sales, current ethanol inventory in production units are close to 15% over those we had in the same period last year. They will be enough to take care of expected demand in months ahead,” UNICA said.

Ethanol exports declined to 2.3bn litres between April and December 2013 down from 3.0bn litres in the same period a year earlier.

The Brazilian harvest season will continue until March but only in the northeastern regions of the country, where output is much smaller than in the more productive centre-south region.

By: Renzo Pipoli
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