Report predicts growth in Brazilian corn ethanol production

Source: By Erin Voegele, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Corn ethanol production in Brazil is expected to reach 2.5 billion liters (660.43 million gallons) during the 2020-’21 marketing year, according to a report filed with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Information Network on Oct. 8.

According to the report, plentiful and cheap corn supplies in the west-central region of Brazil have attracted investment in the corn ethanol sector over the past few years. There are currently 16 corn ethanol plants in the country. At least four of those facilities are corn-only plants. The remaining facilities are flex plants that can produce ethanol from both corn and sugarcane. The report cites industry sources as indicating at least seven more corn ethanol plants are in the planning, development or construction phase, and could begin operations within two years. If all those projects are developed as planned, Brazilian corn ethanol production could grow to 5.5 billion liters annually. For the 2020-’21 marketing year, the Brazilian Corn Ethanol Union (UNEM) projects production will reach 2.5 billion liters, up approximately 1.17 billion liters when compared to the previous year.

Corn ethanol is expected to account for approximately 8 percent of Brazil’s total ethanol production for 2020. Total corn consumed to produce ethanol within the country is estimated at 6 million metric tons, up 88 percent when compared to the volume of corn consumed in 2019. That volume represents approximately 6 percent of the corn crop in marketing year 2019-’20.

The GAIN report explains that corn-based ethanol has been produced in Brazil since 2014. The initial production came from sugar mills that had been retrofitted to take in corn during the summer when sugarcane is not available. The results of those retrofitted projects proved successful. As a result, more mills made the investments necessary to produce ethanol year-round.

UNEM was founded in 2017 and has played an integral role in promoting the expansion of corn ethanol production and lobbying for favorable government policies at the state and national level, according to the report.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the USDA FAS GAIN website.