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Brazil could cede status as top global sugar producer

Houston — Brazil will likely step down to become the world's second-largest sugar producer on low global sugar prices and higher profitability and strong demand for ethanol, according to a report by Brazilian consulting company JOB Economia e Planejamento.

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Market incentives for stronger ethanol production in Brazil, combined with expectations of an even larger bumper crop in India in the coming crop season, will likely make India the world's largest sugar producer, according to the report.

Brazil's commercial ethanol premium over domestic sugar has ranged from 4% to 40% since October 2017, a trend that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, the report said.

India is expected to produce over 35.5 million mt of sugar during crop year 2018-19, which begins in October, according to the Indian Sugar Mills Association.

Brazil is expected to produce 2.7 million mt of sugar in the North-Northeast region and 27 million mt in the Center-South region, yielding 29.7 million mt of sugar for CY 2018-19, which runs from April-March in the North-Northeast region, and October-September in the Central-South region, according to the JOB report. The CS Brazil production figures would be 9.1 million mt lower than CY 2017-18 levels, according to the report.

Brazil is expected to produce 31.2 billion liters of ethanol in the same period, including 29.2 billion liters in the CS region. The expected ethanol production in the CS region would break the previous record of 28.2 billion liters set in 2015-16, according to the report.

--Jordan Young, jordan.young@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, jennifer.pedrick@spglobal.com