* CropEnergies helped by higher German bioethanol demand
* Bioethanol output and profits rise strongly
HAMBURG, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Bioethanol producer CropEnergies said on Wednesday greater acceptance in Germany of a gasoline blend with higher biofuel content had helped boost its output and profits.
The German company said it had increased bioethanol production by 20 percent to 597,000 cubic metres in the nine months to November 30 versus the same period a year earlier.
The German government in 2011 raised the maximum permitted level of bioethanol blended in gasoline to 10 percent from 5 percent as part of efforts to protect the environment by lowering CO2 emissions.
But German motorists were initially hostile to the move and sales of the higher blend gasoline, called E10, were only around 10 percent of total gasoline sales in 2011.
“E10’s sales of the petrol market stood at around 14 percent in the period from January to September 2012,” CropEnergies said on Wednesday.
Overall German 2012 bioethanol consumption is expected to have risen by 11.6 percent to 1.75 million cubic metres, the company said.
It reported a 20-percent rise in January-to-November sales to 509.6 million euros with operating profit up 64 percent to 70 million euros. After-tax profit rose to 47.5 million euros from 26.3 million.
“The main reasons for the growth in earnings are the additional contributions to operating income made by increased production and sales volumes, an early and cost-efficient hedging of raw materials as well as the higher proceeds from the sale of food and animal feed products,” it said.
CropEnergies produces a range of animal feeds from the remains of sugar and grains used for bioethanol output.
Animal feed prices rose sharply in 2012 as soybean and corn prices hit record highs as the worst drought in recent history ravaged the U.S. Midwest grainbelt.
Based on its positive nine-month performance, CropEnergies said it expects full-year sales to rise to more than 670 million euros from 572 million euros in the previous year.
Operating profit is expected to rise to over 80 million euros from 53 million euros, it said.
Europe’s largest sugar producer, Suedzucker, holds a 71 percent stake in CropEnergies. It is due to report its nine-month results on Thursday. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Jason Neely)