BRAZIL: UNICA says cane crush in centre-south up 2.2% in H2 May; sales fall

Published: 06/13/2018, 6:57:37 AM

Sugarcane crush in Brazil's centre-south totaled 32.38 million tonnes in the second half of May, a 2.18% increase in relation to the same time last year, despite a truckers' strike that caused a loss equivalent to 4.5 days of production, according to industry association UNICA, reports Sugaronline.

About 13 million tonnes of sugarcane were not processed in the second half of May during the truckers' strike, when mills halted operations due to a lack of diesel and other production inputs, said UNICA's technical director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues in a statement Tuesday.

This loss in production was equivalent to BRL1.2 billion (US$280 million) in revenues for the sugarcane industry in the region.

Sugar exports by mills in the centre-south during the second half of May reached 703,680 tonnes, below the average for the period during the last three harvests (1.30 million tonnes).

"The centre-south failed to deliver 160,000 tonnes of sugar for sales in the domestic market and more than 170,000 tonnes for exports," said Rodrigues.

Total volume of hydrous ethanol sold by mills in the centre-south in Brazil's domestic market fell to 564.45 million litres in the last half of May, down from the 601.47 million litres sold in the same time last year.

Only 226.95 million litres of anhydrous ethanol were traded in the period, less than half the volume sold in the same period of the 2017/18 harvest.

Sugar production totaled 1.34 million tonnes in the second half of May, down 23.84% from the same time last year, and the smallest volume ever registered for this period. Ethanol production increased by 44.53%, to 1.74 billion tonnes (1.19 billion of hydrous and 546 million of anhydrous).

Mills in centre-south used 67.46% of the processed cane to produce ethanol, compared to 52.53% in the same period of 2017. 

In the first two months of the 2018/19 season, mills in the centre-south crushed 134.84 million tonnes of cane, up 20.17% from the same time last year. Sugar production totaled 5.49 million tonnes (-3.93%) and ethanol output reached 6.55 billion litres (+51.88%).

UNICA said that the total crush for the 2018/19 season is expected to be negativelly impacted aged cane fields and an extensive drought period between March and May, "severely hampering the crops and agricultural productivity for the remainder of the crop."

São Paulo state, which accounts for about 60% of the sugarcane production in Brazil's centre-south was the region most affected by climatic adversities.

Cane availability could be compromised in the last third of the season if weather conditions remain unfavorable, according to UNICA.