Booming sugar exports and quick harvest could spell trouble for ethanol

Ethanol production put at risk by vastly increased sugar exports amid several international factors

sugar exports brazil
Sugar shipment being loaded in the Paranaguá Port. Photo: Ivan Bueno/APPA

Booming international prices and a weakening currency led Brazilian mills to increase sugar production by 32 percent in the 2020-2021 harvest, making the country the world’s biggest producer for the second year in a row. Now, as more and more cane becomes sugar, and the dry weather speeds up the harvest, the country risks reducing the safety margin for ethanol production in 2021, according to experts. 

Data from sugar mills association Unica shows that sugarcane crushing reached 415.1 million tonnes by the end of August — 3.8 percent more than the same period in 2019-2020, despite a...

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