Platts Pre-Report Survey of Analysts Results: UNICA Sugarcane Crush

Advance Estimates Suggest a 1H August Cane Crush of 47.43 Million mt in Brazil's Center-South

Likely 44.835% Sugar Mix for 1H August 2015: Analysts

Aug 20, 2015, 21:11 ET from Platts

LONDON and SAO PAULO, Aug. 20, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- 

Platts Survey of Analysts

  • Cane crush: 47.43 million metric tons (mt)
  • Cane yield (ATR*):  139.67 kilograms per metric ton (kg/mt)
  • Sugar production: 2.82 million mt
  • Total ethanol production: 2.152 billion liters (ltr)
  • Hydrous ethanol production:  1.239 billion ltr
  • Anhydrous ethanol production: 907.10 million ltr
  • Sugar mix: 44.83 %
  • Ethanol mix:  55.17%

Sugarcane crush volumes in the key Center-South region of Brazil in the first half (H1) August are expected to total 47.43 million mt, according to the results of a Platts survey of analysts Thursday.

The wider range of analysts' expectations for cane crush spanned a range of 46 million mt to 50 million mt.  Brazilian sugarcane industry group UNICA is expected to release its bimonthly sugarcane harvest data Friday. 

The crush in the second half of July was 49.44 million mt, while in H1 August 2014 it was 44.86 million mt, according to Brazilian sugarcane industry association UNICA.  

On a daily basis, the H1 August crush is forecast at 3.162 million mt/d, up 72,000 mt/d from the last two weeks of July, according to survey respondents. With sugarcane mills working nonstop for 31 days, some analysts contend producers may have taken a quick break, no more than half a day, for maintenance.

Analysts at Platts' Kingsman, the agricultural analysis unit of Platts since the unit's acquisition in 2012*, forecast the cane crush at 47.4 million mt. Cane yield, as measured by total recoverable sugar (or ATR as it is known by its Portuguese acronym) would be 140.6 kg/mt, up 5.77 kg/mt from the previous two weeks.

While dry weather has been important to the heightened pace of the harvest, it has definitely been a nightmare for sugarcane quality, survey respondents agreed. The average ATR estimate for H1 August was 139.67 kg/mt, down 3.14 kg/mt year on year.

"The cane is looking dead," said one analyst. "There are some areas without any green plant, the soil is completely dry." He added that 20% of the Central-South region has been affected by the recent flowering of its sugarcane, which leads to the drying of the cane and making it more difficult to extract sugar. Of the total flowering cane, 10% has already been harvested.

However, other analysts insisted the flowering will not hurt the H1 August harvest period because it takes 60 days from the beginning of flowering for the loss of recoverable sugar content to increase. To avoid this loss, mills would need to speed up the cane crush and increase logistics efficiencies, they said.

Analysts surveyed said they expected the ATR to be within a range of 135.5kg/mt of sugarcane to 143 kg/mt.


It is still uncertain whether the current flowering will affect ATR levels the full 2015-16 crop, said Alessandra Rosete, an agriculture analyst at Platts' Kingsman.  "However, the certainty I have is that this phenomenon has been gaining momentum," Rosete said. "Flowering has been observed in the largest producer state, Sao Paulo, and it could also be above historical levels this season."

There are mills applying an inhibitor to flowering, though this is an expensive procedure, especially for those with financial difficulties, Rosete said. Sugarcane has been flowering in Parana, an important sugarcane growing state, since June, according to Alcopar, the state' sugarcane industry association.

Center-South mills have definitely maximized crushing, said Claudiu Covrig, senior agriculture analyst at Platts' Kingsman. "Even if ethanol continued to pay better than sugar, the sugar mix is expected to recover 1.17 percentage points to 45.1%, which should take sugar production to 2.86 million mt, the highest so far this season."

With analysts' estimates at 2.82 million mt of sugar for H1 August, this would put the cumulative total for the current season at 16.31 million mt, down almost 9% from last year's crop.

In terms of ethanol production, the average of analysts' expectations points to total ethanol output of 2.152 billion liters. Hydrous ethanol would still lead production at 1.239 billion liters, but with a small reduction from the previous two week's 1.302 billion liters. For the first 15 days of August anhydrous output is expected to be 907.10 million liters. If so, it would be the highest production for the year's crop.

Visit the Platts and Platts' Kingsman websites for more information on sugar and biofuels.

Interviews may be arranged with the following sugar experts via Platts Communications: Platts Sugar Pricing Specialists: Nicolle Monteiro de Castro, Darren Stetzels, Beatriz Pupo; and Platts Sugar and Ethanol Analyst: Claudiu Covrig and Alessandra Rosete. If you would like to receive this on a regular basis, please select Agriculture at this alerts sign-up link.

*Kingsman, acquired by Platts in 2012, is an agricultural analysis unit of Platts  
**In its bi-monthly cane harvest update, UNICA publishes a range of sugarcane harvest production metrics for Brazil's Center-South region, also broken down into São Paulo and other states.


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