The sun appears to be rising again for the ethanol industry.
“Profitability has returned,” says Joe Victor, who is Vice President of commodity research advisory firm Allendale, Inc. “We know that over the past three months that there is profit returning, above and beyond all costs. Ethanol companies are turning a profit over the past three months.”
The main reason is lower corn prices compared to last year and prospects for a bumper corn crop this year. The Wall Street Journal is calling it “Christmas in October for Ethanol Producers.” Last week, ethanol processing margins nearly doubled to a dollar a bushel. Since early July, ethanol futures on the Chicago Board of Trade have increased more than 20%, while corn futures have only gone up about five percent.
A great sign of profitability is idle plants going back into production. According to Ethanol Producer Magazine, the number of plants idled has decreased from 36 in the spring to 24 this fall. The publication’s latest plant map shows total U.S. ethanol production capacity is nearly 12 billion gallons.