CEDAR RAPIDS, IOWA, US — Ingredion told its farmer suppliers in a letter that it has decided to cease operations at its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, US, ethanol plant, AgWeb reported.

The company cited profitability and weak demand as key factors in the decision. It said the facility will continue to manufacture corn-based products such as starch, germs and proteins.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic control measures significantly curbed the demand for gasoline and therefore ethanol. In spring, about 70 ethanol plants had been idled and 70 more reduced their operating capacity. At one point, at least 46% of total production capacity was offline.

While those numbers have improved, there are still about two dozen plants that are completely idle, said Geoff Cooper, president and chief executive officer of the Renewable Fuels Association.