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November 14, 2013

Sugarcane Processing in S. Brazil up 12%, Sugar Production Flat

Sugarcane processors in southern Brazil have kept more of their mills operating later in the season in anticipation of processing a record amount of sugarcane. From the start of this year's harvest season through November 1st, mills in southern Brazil have processed a total of 510 million tons of sugarcane compared to 455 million tons processed last year during the same period, or an increase of 12%. According to the Union of Sugarcane Industries (Unica), as of November 1st, only six mills in southern Brazil had closed their doors for the season shutdown compared to 24 mills that had closed on November 1st of 2012 and 97 that had closed on November 1st of 2011.

Even though the amount of sugarcane processed went up this year, the amount of sugar produced is about equal to last year. The reason why sugar production has not increased is due to the lower amount of sugar content in the sugarcane this year and a greater emphasis on ethanol production instead of sugar.

During the second half of October, the average amount of Total Recoverable Sugars was 138.9 kg/ton, which was down 3.5% compared to the 143.9 kg/ton registered during the second half of October 2012. For the entire harvest season thus far, the Total Recoverable Sugars has averaged 133.9 kg/ton or 1.4% less than last year. Additionally, processors have been emphasizing more ethanol production this year instead of sugar. During the second half of October 47.7% of the sugarcane was destined for sugar compared to 51.2% last October.

Therefore, even though the amount of sugarcane being processed is up 12% compared to last year, the total amount of sugar production is nearly the same as last year. Thus far this harvest season, there has been 29.56 million tons of sugar produced in southern Brazil, which is nearly equal to last year. The total amount of ethanol produced thus far in southern Brazil is 21.83 billion liters or 19% more than last year.

Sugarcane processors in southern Brazil usually close down their operations during the summer rainy months from December through March due to wet field conditions.