Third-quarter flour production off 3% from last year

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — U.S. Flour production in July-September is estimated at 105,410,000 cwts, down 2.9% from 108,593,000 in the third quarter of 2010. It was up 5.1% from 100,313,000 cwts in the second quarter.

The Census Bureau halted compilations with the second quarter report. Subsequently, the North American Millers’ Association retained Veris Consulting, Inc. to survey the 24 largest U.S. wheat, durum and rye milling companies on flour production in the third quarter of 2011 (July-September). Figures published in this report are based on data voluntarily reported to Veris.

The capacity share of participating companies was estimated at 95.4% of total U.S. flour milling capacity, as listed in the Grain and Milling Annual 2010.) Each of the 24 companies responded to the survey. Still, total industry volume presented by NAMA was below 100%, and the figures do not accurately represent industry volume. The association made no estimates to bring the volume up to 100%.

The Census Department did not disclose to NAMA the name or number of respondents to their surveys. They did note in footnotes accompanying past reports that some numbers have been estimated. Therefore, data published in this report may not be comparable to historical reports.

Third-quarter 2011 wheat flour production (1,000 cwt sacks) as reported by Veris on behalf of NAMA is 100,561.

Milling & Baking News has chosen to apply the same share of capacity to production for both companies that did and did not submit data, resulting in the estimate that total U.S. flour production totaled 105,410,000 cwts.

At the estimated 105,410,000 cwts, July-September 2011 was the 12th largest quarter on record. The record occurred in October-December 2000 at 109,673,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2007 at 109,017,000, July-September 2000 at 108,838,000 and September 2010 and July-September 2010 at 108,593,000. Production in the third quarter this year was the smallest since 2006.

The available data (both NAMA and Census along with Milling & Baking News estimates) indicate flour output in the first three quarters of 2011 totaled 305,747,000 cwts, down 2.2% from 312,604,000 in January-September 2010, the record. It was down 1.7% from 310,941,000 in January-September 2009.

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