BP Bunge joint venture capitalizes on sugar rally to hedge sales – CEO

BP Bunge Bioenergia, a Brazil-based joint venture for sugar and biofuels, took advantage of what it called a “rare market condition” to hedge a large amount of sugar sales for the next two seasons.

The JV, which was set up late last year and is backed by Bunge Ltd and BP Plc, has hedged 60% of its 2021 sugar sales and 40% of its 2022 sales, Chief Executive Geovane Consul said in an interview on Friday.

“We took advantage of a situation of sugar prices going up in New York at the same time as the local currency was falling strongly, that is pretty rare,” Consul said, adding that average prices for 2021 are 10% above the previous year, while prices for 2022 are 8% higher than 2021.

Raw sugar prices on the ICE futures exchange hit a nine-month high of 15.66 cents per pound last month just as the Brazilian currency was near historical lows against the dollar.

That helped to boost revenues for Brazilian mills which operate in the real local currency. Those market moves allowed BP Bunge to lock in high sugar prices before prices weakened again.

Brazil is the world’s largest sugar exporter, far outpacing second-largest exporter Thailand. The country exported almost 22 million tonnes of sugar from January to October versus 13 million tonnes at the same time a year earlier, based on official data.

Sugar prices rose due to production cuts in regions such as Thailand and Europe and as funds bought futures, building a heavy long position in the commodity.

“We stopped hedging now as the real rose. There is also the prospect of possible crop problems in Brazil due to the weather,” Consul said.

The Brazilian real gained nearly 12% in the last month.

China bought 3.7 million tonnes of sugar compared to 1.27 million tonnes a year earlier and is expected to continue adding to its stockpiles, which BP Bunge sees as positive for prices going forward.

BP Bunge Bioenergia Chairman Mario Lindenhayn said the JV was able to finance all of its annual investment of about 1 billion reais ($193.42 million) and also paid down debt with its cash generation.

He said the next step for the venture, which operates 11 mills in five Brazilian states, is to increase capacity use. Its plants could crush up to 32 million tonnes of sugar cane per season, but are expected to end the current season processing 28 million tonnes. ($1 = 5.1700 reais)




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