* Brazil record sugar exports for any month was October 2012
* Brazilian ethanol exports in 2012 exceeded 2011, 2010
* Increased U.S. demand for ethanol boosted exports
By David Brough
LONDON, Jan 8 Brazilian sugar exports in
December reached a record for the month after dry weather aided
harvesting, adding to a global supply glut, the London-based
International Sugar Organization (ISO) said on Tuesday.
Brazil, the world's top sugar producer and exporter,
exported 2.454 million tonnes in December 2012, an all-time
record for the month of December, according to the ISO's latest
The December figure beat a previous high for the month set
in 2010 of 2.227 million tonnes. Brazil's highest ever monthly
sugar export volume was 3.933 million tonnes in October 2012.
"High production has allowed Brazil to keep sugar exports
relatively firm at a time when shipments normally slow down
significantly," the ISO said.
The cane harvest in the centre-south of Brazil, the main
producing region, typically starts to wind down in December.
A surge in Brazilian ethanol exports in 2012, chiefly to the
United States, may explain why sugar prices have shown
resilience despite the global surplus, Leonardo Bichara Rocha, a
senior economist of the ISO, said in an interview.
Total Brazilian ethanol exports in 2012 stood at 3.050
billion litres, higher than the lows of around 1.95 billion
litres seen during 2010 and 2011, according to the ISO.
Of the 2012 total, the U.S. imported 2.050 billion litres.
In Brazil, sugarcane is used to manufacture either sugar or
Asked whether strong U.S. demand for Brazilian ethanol had
supported sugar prices, Bichara Rocha said, "Possibly. It is
certainly helping to remove some sugar off the global market."
Bichara Rocha added, "Brazil's sugar exports in 2012 were
lower than in 2010, while ethanol exports have been
significantly higher than in 2010. 2011 is ignored due to a
massive slump in cane output."
In 2011 a combination of adverse weather and disappointing
yields eroded cane output in Brazil.
ICE raw sugar prices have held close to Brazilian costs of
production despite the bulging global surplus, estimated by the
ISO at 6.184 million tonnes in 2012/13 (Oct./Sept.)
Benchmark March raw sugar futures on ICE were down
0.16 cent to 18.70 cents a lb at 1757 GMT.
In December 2012, total Brazilian ethanol exports were the
highest since July 2009.
"This follows a recent revival in the bilateral Brazil-U.S.
ethanol trade, with Brazil able to ship large quantities of
ethanol classed as advanced biofuel," Bichara Rocha said.
A severe drought in the United States last year led to
soaring corn prices, which eroded the profitability of
manufacturing corn-based ethanol in the United States and
boosted opportunities for Brazilian ethanol exports.