Sugar production in Brazil’s main cane belt surged in April, outpacing last year’s early harvest by 210 percent, as rains cleared in the middle of last month to allow crushing of the record crop to accelerate, industry association Unica said on Monday.
This season’s sugar production in the world’s largest exporter of the sweetener jumped to 1.69 million tonnes through the end of April, more than tripling last year’s 545,200 tonne output over the same period, Unica said in its bimonthly crushing report.
Heavy rain early in the April-to-March season slowed the start of crushing in the main center-south region and kept many mills out of the fields more than they would have liked given the record 589 million-tonne crop to be harvested.
But weather cleared by mid-April and has remained near ideal. Mills crushed 41 million tonnes of cane through April 30, that’s 190 percent more than a year ago. Unica said that 31.5 million tonnes of that total was crushed in the second half of April.
Mills have allocated 60 percent of the cane harvested to ethanol production, with 40 percent going to sugar production. Last year, over the same period, 61.5 percent of the cane went to ethanol and 38.5 to sugar, Unica data showed.
Unica said that 220 of the roughly 300 mills in the center-south had begun crushing by May 1, compared with the 154 mills operating by this time last year and the 144 mills operating on April 15 this year.
“This year there was an anticipation to the start of crushing by production units due to the greater volume of cane available for crushing,” said Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, Unica’s technical director.
He added that mills will prioritize the production of ethanol through this season due to the increase in the mandatory blend of anhydrous ethanol in retail gasoline to 25 percent on May 1 from 20 percent previously.
Unica estimates this increase in the blend will create an additional demand of roughly 2 billion liters of ethanol per year.
Unica said in its April 29 forecast of the 2013/14 crop that the center-south would produce a record 35.5 million tonnes of sugar, up 4 percent from last year, and 25.4 billion liters of ethanol, up 19 percent from last season