The sugar and ethanol industry in Brazil


This post is aimed at understanding the structure of the sugar and ethanol industry all over the world with a more focused gaze in Brazil. The question on my mind is: what if we go increasing resolution from the global level to the local level (in Brazil)? Ok. First we will start with the sugar production (click the image to go to original website).

Source: Statista (click on the image)

From the 195 countries in the world today(1), 121 produce sugar. What is the role played by Brazil in this market? And what are the consequences for the smaller producers? These and other questions are going to be discussed here, beginning with this post.

Here is the world (click the image to go to original website):


Source: Maps of The World (click on the image)

And here is the map summarizing worldwide sugar trade (click the image to go to original website).

Source: Vox (click on the image)

The major sugar producers worldwide are (click the image to go to original website):

Source: SUCDEN (click on the image)

So, Brazil responds to 22% of world wide production. Now a map indicating the main feedstock for sugar production (click the image to go to original website).

World Map
Source: SKIL (click on the image)

And the countries producing sugar from sugarcane (click the image to go to original website):

Source: (click on the image)


According to SUCDEN (2), “Sugar is produced in 120 countries. Global production now at around 180 million tonnes a year. Approximately 80% is produced from sugar cane, which is largely grown in tropical countries. The remaining 20% is produced from sugar beet, which is grown mostly in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere. 70 countries produce sugar from sugar cane, 40 from sugar beet, and 10 from both. The 10 largest sugar producing nations represent roughly 75% of world sugar production.  Brazil alone accounts for almost 25% of world production. Its share is increasing although the country’s output has witnessed some setback since the 2008-2009 crisis.”

Now a closer look in Brazilian’s production (click the image to go to original website):



In the country, sugarcane production is distributed throughout its 24 from the 27 federations (click the image to go to original website).


But as it can be seeing in the map above, 5 of them concentrate 88% of the national sugar and ethanol production (CONAB, 2015b). However the other 19 still process 82 million tonnes of sugarcane per season in 97 sugarcane mills (NovaCana, 2016; UNICA, 2015a).

Other questions are:

  • What are the characteristics of smaller scale sugarcane, sugar and ethanol producers in Brazil?
  • What is the impact of an international (for sugar) and centralized (for ethanol) market for the smaller producers?
  • How to reduce their vulnerability to market volatily?
  • What is the size of sugar and ethanol production facilities worldwide?
  • How is the Brazilian sugar and ethanol production evolving
  • How is the Brazilian participation in the sugar and ethanol market evolving?
  • How is the Brazilian revenues from sugar and ethanol production evolving?
  • World sugar consumption – where are we heading to? Inspired by this info.






The information and perspective in this post are meant to build an overview of the subject to help the blog owner with her PhD research. The blog owner is not responsible for the use other people will make of it. The blog owner make it public because she believes it may help other people as well.



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