March 22, 2018 / 4:45 AM / in 6 months

UPDATE 1-China's ethanol output expected to increase by up to 500,000 T in 2018 -SDIC exec

* China to roll out ethanol gasoline production nationwide by 2020

* China processed 62.5 mln T of corn in 2017, up 17 pct on year (Adds details)

GUANGZHOU, China, March 22 (Reuters) - China’s ethanol output expected to increase by up to 500,000 tonnes in 2018, said Zhang Guogang, a strategy development manager with State Development & Investment Corporation (SDIC), speaking at an industry conference in Guangzhou on Thursday.

State grain trading house COFCO is currently China’s top ethanol producer but SDIC plans to be market leader within five years, the company’s chairman has previously said.

SDIC is aiming to produce 4 million to 5 million tonnes of ethanol a year in the next three to five years, a company official said last October.

China said last year it would roll out gasoline with a 10 percent ethanol content in 2020 to boost demand for excess corn stocks and clean up choking smog.

The country’s corn processing production capacity increased 10 percent in 2017 while volume of corn processed went up 17 percent in the same year, at 62.5 million tonnes, Zhang said at the Guangzhou conference.

The average profit margin for the corn processing sector in China was at 12 percent in 2017, up 3 percentage points from the previous year, according to Zhang.

China is sitting on nearly 200 million tonnes of corn stocks, the legacy of a now-abandoned stockpiling scheme that offered a guaranteed minimum price. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason in BEIJING; Editing by Tom Hogue and Kenneth Maxwell)

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