one of the Brazilian leaders in bioenergy and sugar sector — assess three complete harvests. In this short time, the company, which was born at the end of 2019 from the combination of the sugar-energy assets of BP and Bunge in Brazil, has based its evolution in financial performance indicators, operational performance and generation of social and environmental value.
The company’s figures for the period endorse BP Bunge’s prominent position in the sector. In the first harvest (2020/2021) the company had net revenue of R$ 6.1 billion, an indicator that increased by almost 30% compared to the last harvest (2022/2023), increasing to BRL 7.9 billion. In the same period, EBITDA grew by around 26%, going from BRL 3.1 billion to BRL 3.9 billion. The company grew, in the 2022/2023 harvest alone, around 8% in the milling indicator, reaching the mark of 25.3 million tons of processed sugarcane.
“We attribute these good results to different factors: we carried out a very successful integration in the initial phase of the business, we have a solid financial position and a very disciplined management in this regard, in addition, we invest continuously and strategically in order to reach new levels of productivity and profitability”, assesses Mario Lindenhayn, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Board of Directors of BP Bunge.
The Chief Executive Officer also considers the importance of consolidating the company at this particular time when so much is said about the contribution of ethanol to the demands regarding decarbonization. “The solution for energy transition will not be done through a single path, there are several routes, but ethanol is the solution that Brazil already has available, with scale, ready for use and with potential for different applications. And collaborating with the country in this regard is a mission for us,” he adds.
Consistent and ongoing investment
Since the beginning of its operations, BP Bunge has invested more than BRL 6 billion, an average of BRL 2 billion per harvest, mostly directed to agricultural initiatives, but also to the industrial and equipment areas. According to Mario Lindenhayn, the movement to invest in a continuous and disciplined way, made the 11 plants of the company reach the first quartile of industrial performance, with RTC [Crystal Recovery Efficiency ] of 93.7% in the last harvest.
Alongside that, BP Bunge managed to position itself as the company with the best agricultural performance. This year, the company increased the availability of sugarcane in its plantations by 16%, at the same time that productivity grew by 13% per hectare. In other words: in a single year of performance, it was possible to produce the same volume of sugarcane in 13% less area.
“This fact demonstrates our ability to extract the maximum possible from each hectare. We have more volume in less area, an important factor that is in accordance with our main purpose, which is to gain competitiveness, and this is only possible by making the best use of our allowed capacity”, analyzes Lindenhayn.
Another point that puts the company in evidence is the reduction of indebtedness, which has fallen 26% since the first harvest. Regarding projections related to the current harvest (2023/2024), the company is focused on occupying all its productive capacity, and has an estimate of advancing from 11% to 16% in milling, which would represent between 28.2 and 29.5 million tons – mark close to the total capacity, which is 32.4 million.
Ethanol in the spotlight
One of the main highlights of the company’s performance in this period was the sale of ethanol to the foreign market, an operation whose major customers are the United States, Japan, Korea and Europe. “Our indicators in this regard grew by almost 260% between the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 harvests alone, going from BRL 150 million to BRL 539 million. This result is due to the increase in demand and price, since the biofuel combines efficiency and decarbonization of the energy matrix”, says Lindenhayn.
In the sugar segment, the evolution is also very significant: in the national market, BP Bunge grew more than 200% in three years, from BRL 130 million (2021/2022) to BRL 393 million (2022/2023). In the foreign market, the increase was 11% in the same period.
Technology: the key to the future
All of BP Bunge’s progress in relation to the productivity is a consequence of consistent investments in technology. The company has an agricultural control center that integrates monitoring systems and generates data for decision-making. Among the recent investments is a broad program for preventing and fighting fires in the sugarcane plantations, called Brigada 4.0 — which includes monitoring of the sugarcane plantations by cameras and control towers. As a result, over the last two years, an average reduction of 52% in areas burned per hectare and 50% in the number of fires in areas close to the group’s 11 plants has been achieved. Investments in such initiatives add up to BRL 30 million by 2024.
Another very relevant project with a social impact is the partnership with TIM, for the installation of 100 4G towers, which will bring connectivity to all the group’s plants. Coverage covers 3 million hectares spread across the states of Tocantins, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, Minas Gerais and São Paulo — locations where BP Bunge has a total of 450.000 hectares of planted area. In addition to the digitalization of production processes of the company, the project will benefit more than 174.000 people from the municipalities neighboring the plants; around 12,500 direct and indirect employees; 29 public schools; and 10 primary healthcare units.
Reference in regenerative agriculture
Since its founding, BP Bunge has developed sustainable solutions for field management, focusing on the quality and productivity of sugarcane plantations. Today, from 450.000 hectares under the company’s management, 86% already use vinasse, capable of extending longevity, increasing the productivity of sugarcane plantations and avoiding the use of water for irrigation. The projection is to expand by 2025 this application to 96% of crops.
“With these measures, company has already managed, in the 2022/2023 harvest, to replace 100% of the use of nitrogen fertilizers in the planting area by biological means. In addition to more sustainable alternatives, these actions generated relevant gains in productivity, cost reduction and less dependence on imported products”, comments Lindenhayn.
In 2023, company built the first biofactory — which produces these biological inputs — at the Itumbiara plant, in Goiás. Therefore, a pilot experiment began, which uses 100% of fertilizers from waste and 100% of pest and disease control with the use of biologicals. “We are working so that this experiment is implemented in the other plants, gradually”, says Mário Lindenhayn.
In addition to initiatives focused on sustainability, the company’s ESG schedule, created at the beginning of the business, includes goals and commitments to be achieved by 2030 which, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, express its plans to evolve, increasingly, generating positive social and environmental impact.
Some examples of movements related to the topic in the last three years were: integration into the UN Global Compact; joining the Elas Lideram movement, which led the company to assume the goal of having up to 30% female leadership by 2025; the investment of BRL 2.3 million in culture and sport projects through incentive laws, among others. “We also surpassed the goal of having 25% of the company’s purchases made with local suppliers, aiming to strengthen partnerships and move the economy in the regions where we operate. In 2022, this mark reached 32%”, comments the Chief Executive Officer.