Sugar Cane

The State of São Paulo is a global reference in the cultivation and production of sugar cane derivatives. As the world’s largest producer of ethanol from such crop, it is a pioneer in research and development in the industry and has one of the cleanest energy matrices of the entire planet.

According to the Sugar Cane Production Monitoring System (Sapcana), associated with the Ministry of Agriculture (Mapa), the sugar and ethanol industry in São Paulo produced 21 million tons of sugar and 11.6 billion liters of ethanol in 2012, which account for, respectively, 58.7% and 51.2% of total production in Brazil.

Between 2003 and 2012, the production of sugar and ethanol in São Paulo grew 73.84% and 64.45%, respectively, driven by the state market of biofuels. The economy of the sugar and ethanol sector accounts for 44% of the entire agriculture and livestock segment in São Paulo.

Exports from the production chain of sugar cane/saccharides totaled US$ 11 billion in 2011, accounting for 53% of Brazilian exports in this segment. The main product was sugar, with 69%.

The State of São Paulo has installed plants that process raw material coming from approximately 5.2 million hectares planted with sugar cane. This area represents 54% of the nearly 9.6 million hectares with the crop throughout the Brazilian territory in the 2011/2012 crop.

The area of the sugar cane fields of São Paulo is equivalent to the territories of Croatia or Costa Rica. The sugar cane crop is spread across almost the entire state of São Paulo, with special mention to the Central-North region (Piracicaba, Ribeirão Preto, Franca and Barretos), the regions of Campinas, Bauru and Jaú and, more recently, the West region (Araçatuba and Presidente Prudente).


To reinforce its commitment to the environment, in 2007 the State of São Paulo adopted the Agro-environmental Protocol of the Sugar and Ethanol Sector, aiming to replace the burning of straw through mechanical harvesting.

In the 2012 crop, the use of clean crop exceeded 70%. Approximately 90% of the agro industrial park and more than 5,600 sugar cane suppliers, through their associations, have joined the protocol, which intends to eliminate the practice of burning by 2017.

According to the United Nations (UN), sugar cane ethanol presents no risk to food safety, in addition to presenting the highest yield in liters per hectare when compared to other alternatives.

Research and Development

São Paulo is the birthplace of technological development and the core industry for the consolidation of sugar cane production in Brazil. Among its research institutes, it is possible to highlight:

Sugar Cane Technology Center (CTC) – one of the world’s leading centers for research and application of biotechnology in sugar cane.

Agronomy Institute of Campinas (IAC) – it studies the genetic improvement of sugar cane.

National Laboratory of Bioethanol Science and Technology (CTBE) – dedicated to the research for obtaining ethanol with high productivity, maximum utilization of raw materials and compliance with sustainable practices.

Bioenergy Research (Bioen) – program of the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp) dedicated to the encouragement and coordination of research and development activities, using academic and industrial laboratories in the promotion of knowledge and its application in related areas of bioenergy production.

Piracicaba Technology Park – with na area covering 688,000 m², the site offers technological innovation programs associated with projects for the conversion of sources of biomass into renewable fuels. It has an incubator to house industrial or service companies in their nascent stage.

Bioenergy and Sustainability Research Center (NAPBS) – launched in 2011, it aims to stimulate and coordinate research on biomass and biofuel processing technologies, integrating the knowledge produced by experts from the three state universities managed by the Government of São Paulo.

Why invest in Sugar Cane in São Paulo?

  • Soil quality and favorable climate for the cultivation.
  • Skilled labor in the various stages of the production chain.
  • Large fleet of flex fuel vehicles and ethanol gas stations.
  • Largest exporter of ethanol and sugar in the world.
  • High technology and presence of applied research institutes.

Click here to download a brochure with more information about the sector.

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