Brazil’s main center-south cane belt crushed 47.89 million tonnes during the dry second half of June, beating market forecasts and nearly doubling the crush from the rainy first fortnight of the month, the cane industry association Unica said on Friday. A market survey by Platts analysts signalled a crush number of 47.1 million to 47.2 million tonnes in late June. The center-south crush was the biggest since the second half of July in 2015, when mills processed 49.7 million tonnes.
Mills in the region pumped out 2.79 million tonnes of sugar, more than doubling the 1.2 million tonnes in the first half of June, when rains slowed harvesting, Unica said.
Sugar futures quickly weakened after the release of Unica’s numbers on Friday and were trading down 2.5 percent in morning trade.
The region’s mills on average allocated 47.1 percent of their cane to sugar production, with the rest going to ethanol. This compares with 43.7 percent of the cane crush a year ago directed to production of the sweetener.
Sugar futures prices have risen more than 50 percent over the past year, prompting mills to strongly favour production of it over ethanol due to the more attractive returns.
The cumulative output of sugar since mills started the season in April is 19.9 percent up from a year ago at 10.98 million tonnes, Unica said.
Of the mills in the region, Unica said 271 were crushing in late June compared with 275 active mills a year ago. Unica added that another four mills were expected to start up crushing by the end of July.
Ethanol output in late June reached 1.93 billion liters, down nearly 4 percent from a year ago.