MECAS(09)17 - Market Potential of Sugarcane & Beet Bio-products

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Industrial biotechnology is of immediate interest to the world sugar industry as it potentially offers new revenue streams for “bio-products” using sugarcane and beet as a renewable feedstock.

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Legislation and initiatives concerning renewables in the US, Europe and Asia - as well as higher oil prices - are speeding up the worldwide demand for renewable bioproducts. As a result there are a growing number of
“green” and high value chemicals, renewable polymers for bioplastics production, amongst others - collectively termed bio-products - that offer potential to the world sugar industry. The aim in this study is to investigate the market potential for sugarcane and beet bio products arising from industrial biotechnology advances. The
key bioplastics opportunity for sugar is identified as bio-polyethylene, where significant investments are already taking place in Brazil to make the chemical from sugarcane ethanol. Whilst 8 other chemicals are identified as offering potential for sugar crops as a renewable feedstock, the one with the best potential in the near term is BDO (1,4 butanediol). Other key biotech opportunities highlighted for the sugar industry include: cellulosic ethanol from sugarcane bagasse; butanol, and biodiesel from bagasse. These latter biotech opportunities are likely to result in broader and more significant new markets for the sugar industry than bioplastics or other intermediate biochemicals.


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