Almost half of North America’s ethanol production facilities are either operating significantly below their normal capacity or shut down completely, all due to the devastating human and economic impact of COVID-19, writes Colin Ley.
Furthermore, while US President Donald Trump talks about the country heading for a strong fourth quarter and a great 2021, ethanol sector leaders are bracing themselves for the actual return to full production taking until 2022.
The reasons for the industry’s caution are easy to find. “Gasoline demand in the US and in many countries across the world halved in March and April, forcing ethanol producers to take the inevitable step of shutting down plants as part of their only possible response to COVID-19,” said Brian Healy, director of global ethanol market development at the US Grains Council, based in Washington DC.
“We assess the ethanol market according to the annual corn year, running from September to August, and our latest numbers show demand for the first seven months of our current marketing year sitting at just over 950 million gallons.
However, that figure doesn’t reflect the huge demand...
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