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April 15, 2021

Corn-Based Ethanol Accounts for 9% of Brazil's Ethanol Production

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The production of ethanol from corn continues to increase in Brazil. According to the Union of Sugarcane Industries (Unica), the production of ethanol from corn during the 2020/21 crop cycle, which went from April 2020 to March 2021, increased 58% compared to a year earlier to 2.57 billion liters. Corn-based ethanol now accounts for 9% of Brazil's total ethanol production.

This is a remarkable development given the fact that the first corn-based ethanol facility in Brazil opened in June of 2017 in the city of Lucas do Rio Verde in the state of Mato Grosso. Since than many new corn-based facilities have been constructed and many traditional sugar mills have been retrofitted to utilize corn during the summer rainy season when sugarcane is not available. The ethanol production in 2021/22 is expected to increase another 25%.

The majority of the corn-based ethanol facilities are located in the state of Mato Grosso which is Brazil's largest producer of soybeans, corn, cotton, and cattle. American companies such as Summit Agricultural Group have been some of the largest investors in this sector.

Ethanol production overall in Brazil declined 9% in 2020/21 to 30.36 billion liters due to the Covid-19 pandemic and reduced ethanol consumption. Many sugar mills also adjusted their production to produce more sugar and less ethanol in order to take advantage of the improved sugar prices.