UNICA: Ethanol production sets new record during 2018-’19 season

By Erin Voegele | April 15, 2019

UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, has released final data for the 2018-’19 crop season, which ended March 31. Ethanol production reached a record high during the season, despite a drop in the volume of sugarcane processed.

According to UNICA, units in the south-central region of Brazil processed 573.07 million tons of sugarcane during the 2018-’19 season, down 3.9 percent when compared to the previous season.

Ethanol production set a new seasonal record, reaching 30.95 billion liters (8.18 million gallons), up 18.63 when compared to the volume produced during the 2017-’18 harvest season, and 9.67 percent higher than the previous record, which was set during the 2015-’16 harvest season.

Of the total volume of ethanol produced during the 2018-’19 crop year, 9.14 billion liters was anhydrous ethanol and 21.81 billion liters was hydrous ethanol. When compared to the previous season, hydrous ethanol production was up 39.17 percent.

UNICA reported that corn ethanol production grew 50 percent when compared to the 2017-’18 harvest, reaching 791.43 million liters.

Sugar production reached 26.5 million tons during the 2018-’19 harvest season, down 26.51 percent when compared to the previous harvest season. According to UNICA, only 35.2 percent of the sugarcane processed during the 2018-’19 harvest season went to sugar production, down from 46.46 percent during the previous season.

Ethanol sales reached 31.08 billion liters during the 2018-’19 harvest season, up 17.53 percent when compared to the previous season. Of that volume, 1.63 billion liters was destined for export, with 29.44 billion liters sold domestically.

In the domestic market, sales of hydrous ethanol reached 20.9 billion liters, up 34.84 percent when compared to the 2017-’19 season. Sales of anhydrous ethanol, however, fell by 9.48 percent to 8.54 billion liters.

During the second half of March, which marked the final two weeks of the 2018-’19 season, 7.02 million tons of sugarcane was processed. Ethanol production reached 380.4 million liters, including 38.62 million liters of anhydrous ethanol and 341.78 million liters of hydrous ethanol. Corn ethanol production reached 46.38 million liters during the two-week period.

UNICA reported 81 plants in the south-central region of Brazil were operational as of March 32, including 73 units that were processing sugarcane and eight that were producing corn ethanol. By the end of the first half of April, UNICA expects 176 plants to be operational.

During the second half of March, domestic sales of anhydrous ethanol reached 447.43 million liters, up 10.75 percent when compared to the same period of last year. Sales of hydrous ethanol reached 851.51 million liters during the two-week period, up 19.2 percent when compared to the same period of last year.