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Brazil's Center-South sugar output plunges 28.51% on year: UNICA

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Brazil's Center-South sugar output plunges 28.51% on year: UNICA

Highlights

Arid weather hampers sugarcane harvest

Total April ethanol output drops 22.14% on year

Anhydrous sales surge 27.86% on year in April

Brazil's Center-South sugar production in April totaled 2.148 million mt, a 28.51% year-on-year drop, according to official production numbers that UNICA, the country's sugarcane industry association, released May 12.

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Sugar production in the second half of April was at 1.515 million mt, down 25.49% from a year ago.

No consensus exists among market participants whether production numbers of the first month of the CS 2021-22 crop were bullish or bearish, but sugar futures contract ICE NY11 settled at 17.84 cents/lb, down only 1.27%, a signal that either lower production was priced in or production numbers were not as bad as expected.

While the volume of cane crushed in the last 15 days of April slid 22.51% on year at 29.59 million mt, nearly 1 million mt below an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts published May 11, the cane's total recoverable sugar, or ATR, was 120.61 kg/mt, down 1.22% from a year ago, but up 2.90 kg/mt than was estimated in the Platts survey.

Thus far, the cumulative cane crush for the 2021-22 crop was at 45.25 million mt, down 25.44% year on year, on harvest delays as producers willing to boost agricultural yields aim to postpone harvesting until more favorable weather conditions develop.

CS Brazil, mainly Sao Paulo state, has had arid weather since April 2020. The extremely dry weather resulted in high productivity for the 2020-21 crop but has been damaging the current crop.

The sugar mix in H2 April -- at 44.54%, slightly down from 45.76% a year ago, but up from the 43.4% the surveyed analysts estimated -- was another potential bearish factor for sugar prices.

ETHANOL PRODUCTION, SALES

Total ethanol production in H2 April was 1.28 billion liters, a 19.92% year-on-year drop and down from the 1.35 billion liters estimated in the Platts survey.

From that total, 944 million liters were hydrous -- the Brazilian E100 biofuel -- and 340 million liters were anhydrous, which is used in a mandatory 27% blend of Brazilian gasoline.

So far in the CS 2021-22 crop, cumulative ethanol production fell 22.14% to 2.01 billion liters.

While production numbers recorded the second straight drop in the crop cycle, ethanol sales that mills reported in April totaled 2.14 billion liters, up 18.41% from the year before, which market participants consider bullish.

From the total ethanol sales reported by mills in April, 2.07 billion liters were diverted for domestic demand, comprising 638 million liters anhydrous, up 27.86% from the year prior, and 1.44 billion liters hydrous, up 16.27% from a year ago.

Despite bullish ethanol numbers, the S&P Global Platts hydrous ethanol assessment, ex-mill Ribeirao Preto was at Real 3,695/cubic meter May 12, down Real 10 day on day, but a 113% jump from a year ago.