Perspective on strong flour production data
Many reasons for cheer may be cited in response to data issued last week by the North American Millers’ Association pointing to a heady pace of U.S. flour production during the past four quarters. The data, including a record second-quarter production figure indicated at 104,899,000 cwts, suggest U.S. flour mills are on track for production in 2013 that would be the largest ever.
During any given year over the past 40, the idea that record flour production was going to be achieved more often than not would have been greeted as a ho-hum observation. After all, from the mid-1970s through the 1980s and 1990s, record outputs were the norm, not the exception. During this long period, no more than three years elapsed between one year of record flour production and the next. In the 26 years between 1976 and 2000, the industry achieved all-time highs in production in every year but 6. The consistency of growth during this period has made the subsequent 12-year drought in new records that much more difficult.
The positive rate of flour production attained in the 12 months hardly erases the many worrisome indicators for the industry, including disappointing baked foods volume trends in supermarkets and continuing signs that gluten avoidance is growing among consumers. Still, even with these headwinds, the flour figures affirm the underlying resilience of an industry whose products have been and will remain the bedrock of healthy American diets.