Flour output in 2008 up in 10 states, down in 8

by Neil Sosland
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WASHINGTON — Flour production in 10 states and state groupings in 2008 increased over 2007, while 8 registered decreases, according to preliminary data from the Census Bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce. State production for the year is based on quarterly output reports.

Leading in 2008 output increases over 2007 was Virginia and Maryland, posting a gain of 8.2%, followed by North Carolina, 7.8%; Alabama and Louisiana, 6.7%; Ohio, 5%; Michigan, 2.6%; Texas and Missouri, both 1.9%; Pennsylvania, 0.9%; and Utah as well as Tennessee and Kentucky, 0.5%.

The sharpest decrease was in North Dakota, down 9.1%, followed by Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, 7.7%; Montana and Idaho, 5.7%; Kansas, 5.1%; Minnesota, 4.3%; Washington and Oregon, 3%; Oklahoma and Colorado, 0.4%; and Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, 0.1%.

All other states — Arizona, Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts — were up 3%.

Three — California, Nebraska and Iowa as well as New York and New Jersey — do not have complete prior year comparisons.

U.S. flour production in 2008 was down 0.6% from the prior year.

For the fourth quarter of 2008, the Census Bureau showed nine states and state groupings with an increase over a year earlier and 12 with decreases. The largest increase was Michigan, up 10%, followed by Virginia and Maryland, 9.2%; North Carolina, 6.2%; Nebraska and Iowa, 6%; Ohio, 5.5%; Alabama and Louisiana, 4.1%; Texas, 3.9%; Washington and Oregon, 2.4%; and Missouri, 0.2%.

The widest fourth-quarter decrease was in Kansas, down 13.2%, followed by North Dakota, 11.7%; Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, 9.3%; Oklahoma and Colorado, 8.4%; Minnesota, 4.9%; California as well as New York and New Jersey, both 4.8%; Tennessee and Kentucky, 3.4%; Montana and Idaho, 3.3%; and Utah, 1.4%.

The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilations of these quarterly milling statistics.

Kansas in 2008 ranked first among states in flour production at 32,842,000 cwts, down 5.1% from 34,614,000 in 2007. Kansas produced 35,264,000 in 2006, 34,767,000 in 2005 and 36,629,000 in 2004.

Kansas in 2008 accounted for 7.9% of national flour production, down from 8.3% in 2007. It was 8.8% in both 2006 and 2005, 9.3% in 2004. The 2008 share for Kansas was the smallest of recent history and contrasts with the peak share of 13% in 1977 when the state’s mills produced 35,769,000 cwts.

For the states for which flour production is reported separately, California ranked second in 2008 with output of 30,458,000 cwts, accounting for 7.3% of the total. There were no comparisons.

Minnesota ranked third, turning out 28,892,000 cwts, down 4.3% from 30,186,000 in 2007. It was 27,102,000 in 2006 and 25,063,000 in 2005. Minnesota’s share of national output in 2008 was 6.9%, down from 7.2% in 2007. It was still up from 6.8% in 2006 and 6.3% in 2005.

Missouri mills were in fourth place in 2008, producing 27,612,000 cwts, up 1.9% over 27,104,000 in 2007. This compares with 24,646,000 in 2006 and 22,464,000 reported in 2005 as well as 25,645,000 cwts in 2004. Missouri mills accounted for 6.6% of the aggregate in 2008, up from 6.5% in 2007, 5.3% indicated for 2006 and 5.7% in 2005.

Ohio mills in 2008 ranked fifth among individual states, producing 25,661,000 cwts, up 5% from 24,436,000 in 2007. It compares with 23,909,000 in 2006 and 22,700,000 in 2005. Mills in Ohio turned out 6.2% of the national total, up from 5.8% in 2007 and 6% in 2006.

Pennsylvania mills in 2007 were in sixth place. Production was 23,485,000 cwts, up 0.9% from 23,268,000 in 2007. It was 22,495,000 in 2006 and 24,259,000 in 2005. Pennsylvania mills in 2007 accounted for 5.7% of the U.S. total, up from 5.6% in 2006.

Among the state groupings initiated by the Census Bureau in 2007, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin led, turning out a combined total of 32,635,000 cwts in 2008, down 0.1% from 32,682,000 in 2007. This was 7.8% of the aggregate, the same as in the prior year.

Next in the state-groupings was New York and New Jersey combined at 27,388,000 cwts, accounting for 6.6% of the national total. There were no comparisons.

The fourth quarter of 2008 when compared with October-December 2007 indicated differences from the yearly ranking. For the first time, Kansas ranked neither first nor second but third. The three-state grouping of Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin ranked first at 8,368,000 cwts, down 1.3% from 8,478,000 a year earlier. California was second, producing 7,535,000, down 4.8% from 7,919,000, and Kansas third at 7,408,000, down 13.2% from 8,539,000.

Leading the country in fourth-quarter flour production were Central states mills turning out 24,021,000 cwts. That accounted for 23% of U.S. production, against 24,269,000, or 22.4%, in the third quarter and 23,582,000, or 22%, in October-December 2007. Central states mills in 2008 produced 93,966,000 cwts, or 22.6%, of the U.S. total, without comparison. Indeed, a number of the regional areas do not yet have complete data available before 2008.

Ranking second in the fourth quarter but down 9.7% from a year back were hard winter mills at 20,858,000 cwts, or 20% of the national total, down from 23,103,000, or 21.3%, in the third and 21,864,000, or 20.4%, a year back. The 2008 aggregate was 85,079,000, 20.4%.

Southern mills ground 17,425,000 cwts, or 16.7%, for the fourth, against 17,855,000, or 16.5%, a year ago. The year’s total was 69,959,000, or 16.8%.

Spring wheat mills produced 14,975,000 cwts, accounting for 14.3% in October-December, down from 16,089,000, or 15%, a year back, Aggregate for 2008 came to 58,348,000 or 14%.

Eastern mills in October-December came in at 12,905,000 cwts, or 12.3%, against 13,257,000, or 12.4%, a year ago. Yearly total amounted to 50,873,000 or 12.2%.

Western mills were at 12,217,000, or 11.7%, in the fourth, down from 12,583,000, or 11.8%, a year ago. The annual sum was 49,275,000 — 11.8%.

Daily flour milling capacity at the end of 2008 in six states was up from a year earlier and capacities of seven were down. Between the benchmark numbers for 2007 and preliminary data for the fourth quarter of 2008, U.S. capacity decreased 12,088 cwts to 1,534,657 cwts. Capacity in Texas increased 8,100 cwts, Alabama and Louisiana rose 4,662, Oklahoma and Colorado rose 3,100, Ohio was up 1,200 and New York and New Jersey as well as Nebraska and Iowa both increased 400. The sharpest decrease was Kansas, down 20,000, Pennsylvania, down 5,500, California, down 2,000, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, down 1,300, Minnesota, down 1,000, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin down 100 and Utah down 50. Others were unchanged, including the "all other" category.

The only recent reported change was in Kansas, where daily capacity was down 20,000 cwts between the third and fourth quarters due to the closing of a mill.

Between the benchmark numbers for all of 2007 and those for the fourth quarter of 2008, rate of grind increased in 9 states and decreased in 12. U.S. rate of grind increased 1.5 percentage points to 89.1%.

In the fourth quarter, the rate of grind by Michigan mills gained 8.3 percentage points from 2007 to 92%, followed by Virginia and Maryland mills up 7 to 83.7%. Pennsylvania gained 5.9 to 94.6%; Nebraska and Iowa, rose 5 to 100.3%; North Carolina climbed 4.9 to 84.6%; Ohio rose 3.9 to 101%; Washington and Oregon, up 2.2 to 93.5%; Kansas, up 0.3 to 75.7% and Missouri, up 0.2 to 89.5%. The sharpest decrease was in Oklahoma and Colorado, down 14 to 87.8% followed by North Dakota, down 10.7 to 80.4%; Alabama and Louisiana, down 10.2 to 97.4%; Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, down 7.2 to 87.7%; Texas, down 5.7 to 80%; New York and New Jersey, down 4.9 to 90.8%; Minnesota, down 3.6 to 83.7%; Tennessee and Kentucky, down 3.5 to 99%; Montana and Idaho, down 3.4 to 99.2%; California, down 2.9 to 91.7%; Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, down 1.3 to 105.1 and Utah, down 1 to 78.1%.

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