Nov 30, 2023

Corn Ethanol Represents 18% of Brazil's Ethanol Production

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The 2023/24 sugarcane harvest in Brazil is nearing completion and it is expected to set records for sugarcane, sugar, and ethanol production. Abundant rainfall during the first half of 2023 in the state of Sao Paulo, which is the major sugarcane producing state in Brazil, encouraged good vegetative development of the sugarcane. Recent heavy rains have slowed the completion of the harvest, which normally ends in December. This year, the harvest probably will not be completed until January.

According to Conab's Third 2023/24 Sugarcane Harvest Report, ethanol production for the current harvest will increase 9.9% to 34.05 billion liters. The amount of ethanol produced from sugarcane is expected to increase 5.5% to 27.99 billion liters or 82.2% of the total. The amount of corn ethanol is expected to increase 36.3% to 6.06 billion liters or 17.8% of the total.

One of the major developments in recent years in Brazil has been the continued increase in market share for corn ethanol. The increase in corn ethanol production is primarily from investments in corn ethanol facilities in the center-west region of Brazil as well as in other regions such as the state of Parana in southern Brazil and the state of Alagoas in northeastern Brazil. This increase is even more remarkable given the fact that Brazil's first corn ethanol facility was opened only six years ago in 2017.

Brazil's sugarcane production in 2023/24 is expected to increase 10.9% to a record 677.6 million tons. The sugarcane harvested acreage increased to 8.35 million hectares (20.6 million acres) and yields improved to 81.12 tons per hectare.

In south-central Brazil, which is the main sugarcane producing region, the harvest is 90% complete with a 12.2% increase in production to 434.98 million tons. The yields increased from 75.62 tons per hectare last year to 85.04 tons per hectare in 2023/24.

The second largest producing region is the center-west which is expected to produce 143.78 million tons followed by southern Brazil at 72.39 million and northeastern Brazil at 59.55 million.

Brazil's sugar production is expected to increase 27.4% to a record 46.88 million tons. Logistical problems at Brazil's southern ports have led to long waiting time to load sugar. Persistent rainfall over the last few months in southern Brazil has slowed sugar loading and the rerouting of grain exports from the Amazon region to southern Brazil due to low water levels on the Amazon River, has made the problem even worse.