UNICA releases updated data, helps fight COVID-19 pandemic

By Erin Voegele | March 20, 2020

UNICA, the Brazilian sugarcane industry association, recently released ethanol production and sales data for February and has announced its members are donating alcohol for use in hand sanitizer to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

UNICA announced on March 18 it was working with government officials in Brazil to waive certain regulations to enable the donation of alcohol for use in sanitizing products. On March 19, UNICA said Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency accepted its request to produce, donate and transport a hydrous ethanol solution containing 70 percent ethanol. “The objective of the measure is to contribute to the supply of public health units, free of charge, in order to contain the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19),” UNICA said in a statement.

“The sugar-energy sector wants to join forces with government agencies and the population to ensure that health professionals, patients and family members have the necessary resources to get through this difficult time, minimizing the risks of spread within health establishments,” said Evandro Gussi, president of UNICA.

Earlier this month, UNICA released updated ethanol production and sales data. Mills in the south-central region of Brazil processed 579.9 million tons of sugarcane since from the beginning of the 2019-’20 harvest, which began April 1, 2019, up 2.74 percent when compared to the same period of the previous harvest. Ethanol production through March 1 was at 32.55 billion liters (8.6 billion gallons), including 22.86 billion liters of hydrous ethanol and 9.87 billion liters of anhydrous ethanol.

UNICA said fuel ethanol production so far this season has already surpassed the 30.95 billion liters of ethanol produced during the entire 2018-’19 harvest season.

Corn ethanol accounts for 4.35 percent of the 32.55 billion liters produced so far this season, reaching 1.41 billion liters by the end of February. That volume is more than double the corn ethanol production for the previous season.

For the second half of February, 428,460 tons of sugarcane was processed by mills in the south-central region. Ethanol production was at 105.93 million liters, including 83.77 million liters of corn ethanol.

As of the end of February, UNCIA said only four sugarcane units and 11 corn ethanol producers were still operating.

Mills in the south-central region of Brazil sold 2.4 billion liters of ethanol in February, including 2.28 billion liters that were sold domestically and 120.79 million liters that were destined for export. Export volumes were up 41.4 percent when compared to February 2019.

Since the beginning of the current harvest season, exports have reached 1.77 billion liters, up 20 percent when compared to the same period of previous harvest season. UNICA indicated export levels are at a five year high. The U.S. remains the primary importer of Brazilian ethanol.

Domestically, anhydrous ethanol sales reached 737.6 million liters in February, including 344.08 million liters sold during the second half of the month. Hydrous ethanol sales reached 1.54 billion liters in February, including 740.85 million liters in the second half of February.

Mills in the south-central region have sold 30.96 billion liters so far this season, up 8.93 percent from the same period of the previous harvest season.