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February 14, 2020

Corn Accounted for 3.8% of Brazil's Ethanol Production in 2019/20

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

During the summer rainy season in Brazil, most sugar mills suspend operations because of a lack of available sugarcane. They resume processing sugarcane again in March or April when the sugarcane harvest resumes. During the period of the year when sugarcane is not available, corn-based ethanol facilities continue production allowing for more year round ethanol production.

According to the Union of Sugarcane Industries (Unica), currently in southern Brazil, there are two sugar mills processing sugarcane, but across the country, there are 10 mills using corn to produce ethanol. Seven of those 10 mills are sugarcane mills that have been retrofitted to utilize corn during the period when sugarcane is not available. Three of those 10 mills utilize corn exclusively to produce ethanol and they operate year round.

From the start of the harvest until January 31st, Brazil produced 32.3 billion liters of ethanol and of the total, 1.24 billion liters were produced using corn or 3.8% of the total. Corn-based ethanol production in Brazil increased 101.7% in 2019/20 compared to a year earlier.

Unica indicated that during the second half of January, 95% of the ethanol produced in Brazil came from corn. In addition to producing ethanol from corn, during the month of January, Brazil imported 177 million liters of ethanol as well.

From the start of the 2019/20 sugarcane harvest until January 31st, Brazilian sugar mills processed 578.8 million tons of sugarcane, which is 2.6% more than during the same period last year. Total sugar production thus far in 2019/20 is 26.4 million tons, which is the essentially unchanged from last year.