UNICA: Brazilian ethanol production to increase, exports to drop

By Erin Voegele | May 28, 2015

UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, along with other producer syndicates and associations and Brazil’s Cane Technology Center, has announced the 2015-’16 sugarcane harvest is expected to increase when compared to last year, with a higher percentage of going to ethanol production.

According to information published by UNICA, 590 million tons of sugarcane is expected to be harvested in Brazil’s south-central region during the current harvest year, up 18.66 million tons from the 571.34 metric tons processed in 2014-’15.

UNICA estimates the total recoverable sugars index will be 135 kilograms per ton of cane during the 2015-’16 season, down from 136.58 kilograms per ton during the 2014-’15 season, when extremely dry weather resulted in higher sugar concentrations.

Approximately 58.1 percent of sugarcane is expected to go towards ethanol production during the current season, up 1.12 percent from 56.98 percent during 2014-’15. While preliminary figures compiled by UNICA show that sugar production was down from the beginning of the current season through mid-May, hydrous ethanol production was up 16.04 percent, from 2.01 billion liters (530.99 million gallons) last year to 2.34 billion liters this year.  According to UNICA, the highly ethanol-oriented production mix stems from the need for cash flow on part of producing units facing financial difficulties, the drop in global sugar prices, and changes that have occurred in Brazil’s domestic fuel ethanol market.

Statistics compiled by UNICA show that the volume of hydrous ethanol sold in April by mills in the south-central region of Brazil increased by 49.51 percent compared to the same period of 2014-’15, while statistics published by the Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency indicate a 50.93 percent increase in distributors’ hydrous ethanol sales in March.

For the current 2015-’16 season, UNICA predicts ethanol production will reach 27.28 billion liters, up 4.33 percent from the 26.15 billion liters produced during the 2014-’15 season. The 28.28 billion liters produced this season is expected to include 10.95 billion liters of anhydrous ethanol, a 1.78 percent increase, and 16.33 billion liters of hydrous ethanol, a 6.10 percent increase. While production is expected to increase, exports are expected to drop, reaching a total of 1 billion liters.