UNICA reports delayed sugarcane harvest, increased ethanol sales

By Erin Voegele | May 23, 2014

UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, has announced that mills in the country’s south-central region processed only 23.89 million tons of sugarcane during the final half of April, down 25.69 percent from the previous year. For the current season, through April, the crush is 40.30 million tons, down only 3.4 percent from 2013.

Through April 30, UNICA estimates that ethanol production equaled 1.64 billion liters (433.24 million gallons) up slightly from the 1.62 billion liters produced during the same period of the previous year. Of that 1.64 billion liters, 524.26 million liters was anhydrous ethanol, with 1.12 billion liters of hydrous ethanol produced. During the second half of April, ethanol production totaled 974.26 million liters, including 311.08 million liters of anhydrous ethanol and 663.18 million liters of hydrous ethanol.

Data released by UNICA notes that ethanol sales by producers in the south-central region totaled 1.81 billion liters in April, up 10.65 percent from the same month of 2013. UNICA attributed most of the growth to increased sales in the domestic market, which reached 1.64 billion liters during the month, up 4.65 percent from last year.

Only 170.28 million liters of ethanol was exported from Brazil in April, although that volume was double the April 2013 export level. In a statement, UNICA Technical Director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues attributed the increase to a window of opportunity in the U.S. market that gave sellers a 4 percent higher return when compared to selling anhydrous ethanol in Brazil’s domestic market. “However, that export arbitrage only opens periodically,” Rodrigues said.

With regard to the sugarcane harvest, UNICA reported that there has been a delay to the start of the season, with only 215 mills beginning activities by the end of April. Information released by UNICA attributes the delay to several factors, including weather, reduced estimates of cane supply, and delayed maintenance activities due to financial difficulties.