Mills in Brazil’s Centre South produced 3.02m tonnes of sugar in the first half of July, 55% more than in the year-ago period and just shy of the 15-day period record, as plants continue to heavily favour the sweetener at the expense of ethanol.
According to a Friday’s report by sugar industry group Unica, ethanol production fell 2.3% in the period to 2.12bn litres, while ethanol sales were 14% below as the fuel market remains depressed by coronavirus-linked measures.
Cane crush hit 46.54m tonnes in the first half of July, 13% more than a year ago.
Sugar production was near an all-time high for a 15-day period reached in 2017 of 3.1m tonnes, as mills allocated around 48% of cane to the production of the sweetener, a much higher amount than the 36% last year when ethanol was gaining market share in Brazil.
Market estimates gathered by S&P Global Platts had indicated sugar output at 3.08m tonnes and total crush at 45.8m tonnes. The market was expecting an even smaller ethanol production at 2.04bn litres.
Harvest pace has been quick in Brazil due to very dry weather. A study published this week by Unica and the Cane Technology Center (CTC) said rains so far in the crop (April-June) were 40% below the average for the period.
While it helps harvest pace and increases sugar content in cane, the dry weather could cut agricultural yields in the later stage of the crop, as well as in the new season in 2021.