Major cane sugar producing countries are moving to make domestic ethanol manufacturing a reality. Brazil will unsurprisingly retain its spot as the top cane ethanol producer, and swings in the ethanol share of its cane crush are a major influence on the global supply of sugar.

Earlier this year, Indian officials suggested a target blending rate of 4 percent for 2017/18—perhaps not impressive but still representing a near doubling from the calculated rate of 2.1 percent in 2016/17. The country will hedge its bets, however, pursuing more advanced biofuels as well as coal-based methanol blending, according to Business Today. Last year, India announced added support for expanding annual ethanol capacity by some 1 billion liters. More recently, the list of allowed feedstocks was extended to include excess or waste food crops and cane juice, all part of the Modi administration’s push towards curtailing fuel imports.

Last week, Thailand announced the shift of an extra 300,000 MT of sugarcane to ethanol this season. The move is seen as a response to sustained weakness in world raw sugar pricing; prior to this, total crush for ethanol was already forecast to be as high as 1 MMT of cane in 2017/18 by USDA. Molasses is the main feedstock for Thailand’s ethanol; about a fifth of its ethanol comes from cassava, but prices for that feedstock have strengthened.

World ethanol production

Source: Renewable Fuels Association
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