Ethanol Could Be Sweet for Commodity Investors

The largest sugar producer in the world — Brazil — is currently focused on the opportunities created from putting sugar not in coffee or baked goods as you would expect, but in fuel tanks.

 Ethanol is an alcohol distilled from raw sugarcane, and, in recent years, Brazil has been shifting its sugar production from food products to fuel development.

 In Brazil today, drivers can pull up to a local gas station and choose from two fuel options: ethanol, or a gasoline-ethanol blend. Unblended gasoline is no longer available in the country. While cars consume more ethanol than gas on a gallon by gallon basis, experts estimate that the average driver can save close to $1,000 a year by switching to an ethanol blend.

 If you’re thinking we can’t run our automobiles on an ethanol blend here in North America, you’re wrong. Almost all North American cars are equipped to run on a 10% ethanol blend. If you drive an SUV, you’re even better off. 4.5 million SUVs in the U.S. are built to run on an 85% ethanol blend.

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 The potential for this energy source is overwhelming — and people are catching on. Just this past September, Ford announced that it would increase its production of ethanol vehicles for the North American market.

 “Ethanol is typically cheaper than regular gasoline, and we’re going to do all that we can to support it,” said Ford President Bill Ford.

 Speculators are sweet on the potential of ethanol too. Sugar futures prices have been hitting contract highs of late on speculation, as the largest Brazilian producers (which are, in fact, the largest sugar producers in the world) embrace the possibilities of ethanol.

 The next eight years are expected to see enormous growth in both ethanol production and ethanol infrastructure, which is lacking almost completely in North America at this time.

 If you haven’t considered an investment in commodity futures before, now’s the time to think about adding a little sugar to your portfolio. When you consider the vast potential of ethanol as an alternative fuel source, sugar futures could be one of the sweetest trades available today.