Brazil 2021/22 sugar output seen down sharply; adverse weather cited

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SAO PAULO, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south 2021/22 sugar production is expected to reach 32 million tonnes, down from about 38.5 million tonnes in the previous cycle, as adverse weather conditions hit the current sugarcane crop, industry group Unica said on Thursday.

According to Unica, sugarcane processing should total 525 million tonnes this season, a 13.3% fall from 2020/21 due to drought and frosts, as well as lower demand amid mobility restrictions.

Unica has also estimated total ethanol output at 27.7 billion liters, down 8.7% on a year-on-year basis, despite a 13.3% rise in anhydrous ethanol production to about 11 billion liters.

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"The projections reflect what we saw during this crop: on the demand side, we suffered with mobility restrictions; on the offer side, fields were affected by frosts and a historic drought," Unica's technical director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, said in a statement.

The industry group added that the share of sugarcane allocated to ethanol production in 2021/22 was seen at 55.13%, versus 53.93% a year earlier.


For the 2022/23 season, Unica's initial forecast point to a potential offer of 560 million tonnes of sugarcane, considering an expected 8.5% yield recovery but also a 2% fall in the area to be harvested.

Rodrigues said, however, that there are still uncertainties regarding the sugarcane area for the next cycle, noting that recent frosts created even more doubts.

"It is to early to decide on a number. There is going to be a yield recovery, but we still need to wait for satellite images, which we will probably have by March," he said during a press conference.

Despite the projected recovery, Rodrigues added that yield figures are expected to remain "well below" their potential of 85 tonnes per hectare. The average yield in 2021/22 totaled 67 tonnes/hectare, the lowest since at least 2003/04.

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Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Roberto Samora Editing by Paul Simao and David Gregorio

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