April 25, 2018 / 3:04 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's center-south speeds up cane crush; ethanol output jumps

 (Adds report details, comments from Unica director, table)
    By Marcelo Teixeira
    SAO PAULO, April 25 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south, the
world's largest sugar producing region, sped up harvesting in
the first half of April, crushing a quarter more cane than in
the same period a year earlier,  industry group Unica said on
Wednesday.
    Mills crushed 22.21 million tonnes of cane in the first two
weeks of April versus 17.7 million tonnes a year earlier,
allocating 68.5 percent of that cane to ethanol production,
which jumped 44.6 percent to 993 million liters.
    Sugar production was stable at 714,000 tonnes, despite the
higher cane crush, as mills are keen to direct all their effort
to the biofuel, which gives them better profit margins in a
moment when sugar prices have touched the lowest in 2-1/2 years.

    The number for ethanol production, Unica said, incorporates
corn-based fuel as well, whose output reached 26.8 million
liters in the first half of April.
    Domestic sales of hydrous ethanol jumped 29.4 percent in the
period from a year earlier, as drivers kept using more of the
biofuel as a substitute for more-expensive gasoline. 
    Both cane crush and sugar production were slightly above
market expectations. A survey conducted by S&P Global Platts
showed on average that analysts were expecting a sugar output of
578,000 tonnes and cane crush of 19.1 million tonnes.
    A drier-than-normal April helped mills speed processing.
Unica said 170 mills were already crushing in the region, versus
162 at this time last year.
    The group said 57 other mills should have started processing
in the second half of April. But it was pessimistic about the
new crop year.
    "In the 2018/19 crop we should see up to nine mills closing
doors in the region, due to financial difficulties and low cane
availability," said Unica's technical director Antonio de Padua
Rodrigues.
    He expected three closures in Paraná state, one in Mato
Grosso do Sul, one in Rio de Janeiro and four in São Paulo.
        
    See below detailed figures from Unica's crop report for the
first half of April (cane and sugar in million tonnes, ethanol
in billion liters, total recoverable sugar-TRS in kg per tonne):
   
    
 BRAZIL'S CENTER-SOUTH - 1st HALF OF APRIL (ANNUAL COMPARISON)
                  2017/18    2018/19    PCT CHANGE
 CANE CRUSH       17.68      22.21       25.64
 SUGAR OUTPUT     0.707      0.714        0.93
 ETHANOL OUTPUT   0.687      0.993       44.65
 TRS (kg/T)       106.63     107.07       0.41
 CANE TO SUGAR    39.37 pct  31.50 pct  
 CANE TO ETHANOL  60.63 pct  68.50 pct  
 Source: Cane Industry Group Unica
 

 (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)
  
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