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U.S. ethanol production up, stocks down

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says production averaged 975,000 barrels a day, up 10,000 on the week and 303,000 on the year, one of the first weeks blending demand concerns connected to COVID-19 impacted the industry. Last week’s average was 27,000 barrels below the week ending April 5th, 2019. The Renewable Fuels Association says net inputs by refiners and blenders and the volume of gasoline supplied to consumers were below the previous week, but above this time last year. Ethanol stocks of 20.642 million barrels were the lowest since mid-November 2020, falling 472,000 barrels from the week before and 6.449 million barrels from a year ago.

China may struggle to drive steel output lower in 2021

China’s plans to lower its crude steel production in 2021 could be challenged by the resultant high steel prices incentivizing mills to lift their operating rates, which would offset output reductions elsewhere. The net result would be at best a marginal lowering of overall production, and in all likelihood no reduction from last year’s levels at all, S&P Global Platts Analytics estimates

China’s domestic hot-rolled coil prices have risen around 12 percent since early March, reaching their highest level since mid-2008. The most recent round of price rises has been driven mainly by Tangshan city’s suspension of 30 percent of its blast furnace capacity, and there is market anticipation that similar output cuts will be extended beyond Tangshan in a bid to achieve the Chinese government’s target of reducing steel production in 2021.

Uruguay’s wheat production expected to reach six-year high

Uruguay’s wheat production in 2021-22 is expected to reach 980,000 tonnes, its highest level in the last six years, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Overall volume growth will only reach 4 percent, the USDA said, due to a trend yield that is significantly lower than 2020-21. Dry conditions in the south with the possibility of it continuing into the next few months could negatively impact planted area and/or yields. “Last year wheat farmers saw high levels of productivity, quality and profitability,” the USDA said. “Despite higher input and production costs expected for this year’s crop, current future wheat prices are attractive and double cropping with second soybean planting remains a profitable combination.” Wheat exports in 2021-22 are projected at 500,000 tonnes, 50,000 tonnes higher than in 2020-21, and the highest since 2015-16. Corn production in 2021-22 is projected at 960,000 tonnes, an increase of 37 percent from 2020-21 expectations. Commercial corn area is expected to increase to 160,000 hectares.

How China is moving beyond Australia for its iron ore hunger

Welcoming the world into the year 2021 was the news that China would accelerate its work on iron ore projects in Africa and Australia, a reminder of the country’s intention to bolster its own supply for steelmaking as well as its strength as an influencer on the global market. Australia has long been China’s go-to for iron ore, with Australia’s vast iron ore production and the proximity of the two countries making for a productive relationship. Australia is the largest source of feed for China’s steel mills, with around 60 percent of China’s iron ore imports originating from Australian mines. But ongoing tension between the countries have alarmed the iron ore and steel industry, with speculation over the future of the China-Australia iron ore trade. Relations between Canberra and Beijing have been fraught since the initial onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, with Australia’s policymakers calling for an independent investigation into the origins of the virus and China’s initial handling of the outbreak in Wuhan. The response from China has involved effectively shutting Australian producers out of the Chinese market in certain industries.

India’s tea production increases 10pc in 2021

It’s good news for tea lovers and producers in India. The country has witnessed a spurt in tea production in January and February this year. According to Global Tea Digest, the Tea Board data for February month states that India produced 17.48 million kg tea. Last year, it was 14.54 million kg for the same month. This is a 20.22 percent increase. South India showed only a moderate increase in the production, upto 15.04 percent. North India is enjoying a staggering increase of 75.81 percent. However, Assam reports a dip in tea production, by 14.81 percent. This is the only state in India at this time that has reported a dip. The cumulative tea output of India rose to 33.53 million kg in Jan-Feb 2021 from 30.60 million kg in the same months of 2020.

High production cost pushes sugar price up

Exorbitantly high cost of sugarcane crushing in Pakistan leads to increase in sugar price at the retail level in Pakistan compared to neighbouring India, documents showed on Tuesday. Against the average sugarcane price of Rs259 per 40-kilogram in Pakistan, local sugar industry is adamant to sell sugar at ex-mill price of Rs93 per kg. In sheer contrast, fair and remunerative price of sugarcane in India was set at equivalent of 238 Pakistani rupees per 40kg for 2020/21 season while sugar price was fixed accordingly at 64 per kg Pakistani rupees, according to the documents. The assessment mechanism for ascertaining cost of sugar manufacturing in the country is lopsided, according to people with knowledge. It does not include income of sugar mills from all products made out of sugarcane – including from sale of molasses, bagasse, press mud or imputed value and ethanol. Sources said cost of locally produced sugar, which has been calculated by federal ministry of industry and production, is pegged at Rs76 per kg for most of the mills.

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