For the current crop year, running from April 2018 through March 2019, Brazil’s center-south sugar production is up by 2.3 percent from last season, reaching 398 million metric tons (MMT) of cane as of the end of August. Total sugar production, however, is down by 19.3 percent at 18.84 MMT of sugar vs. 23.34 MMT of sugar a year ago.
The reason behind this disparity is not hard to find: Last year, 48.5 percent of the sugarcane crush for the first five months of the season was processed for sugar production, while 51.5 percent of cane crush was processed for ethanol. For this season to date, however, only 36.5 percent of cane was crushed for sugar, while 63.5 percent was crushed for ethanol.
As the chart shows, sugar production to date is down from the past two seasons and closer to production back in 2015/16. Note that that year, cumulative crush was just 370 MMT, down from this year’s phenomenal crush by some 7.0 percent. Back then, the April-August center-south ethanol share stood at 56.8 percent, down almost 7 points from the current cumulative ethanol share.
There is little to indicate that the remainder of the season will differ from this pattern. Demand for ethanol remains strong, with all ethanol sales up 15.7 percent year on year for the April-August period.
Brazilian center-south cumulative sugar production
Source: UNICA, McKeany-Flavell
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