Further signs whole wheat flour output lagging

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON – Whole wheat flour production in 2013 nearly was unchanged from the year before, according to data issued by the North American Millers’ Association.

U.S. whole wheat flour production for the past year totaled 18,969,000 cwts, down 0.4% from 19,054,000 cwts in 2012. The figures were calculated by Milling & Baking News based on data compiled for NAMA by Veris Consulting, Inc. The data offer the latest indication the growth in whole wheat flour demand has cooled following torrid growth through much of the 2005-12 period.

Estimates for 2012 and 2013 were calculated by Milling & Baking News using the same extrapolation formula used for calculating all wheat flour production. Based on indications NAMA obtained data from milling companies accounting for about 95% of U.S. flour milling capacity, Milling & Baking News arrived at an estimate for total wheat flour production by dividing NAMA 2013 production by .951 and 2012 by .954. The year-to-year change reflected modest share growth by the smallest milling companies in the United States.

Whole wheat flour accounted for 4.47% of all U.S. wheat flour production in 2013, down slightly from 4.53% in 2012.

For several years before 2012, whole wheat flour production had been compiled by Milling & Baking News based on data submitted to the publication by the largest U.S. milling companies. Gathered and reported once a year on a crop year basis, whole wheat flour production most recently was estimated at 20,923,000 cwts in 2011-12, 20,539,000 in 2010-11 and 18,769,000 in 2009-10.

While the figures are not completely comparable, the 2013 estimate from NAMA for whole wheat flour production was 9% smaller than the 20,923,000 cwts reported by Milling & Baking News for 2011-12. As recently as 2004-05, whole wheat flour production stood at 10,155,900 cwts.

On an as reported basis by NAMA (without extrapolation), whole wheat flour production in 2013 was 18,039,000 cwts, down 0.8% from 18,177,000 cwts in 2012.

Even though whole wheat flour production for 2013 was nearly unchanged, quarterly production changes were more volatile. In the fourth quarter of 2013, whole wheat production as estimated by NAMA was 4,639,000 cwts, up 3.5% from 4,483,000 cwts in October-December 2012.

The 3.5% gain in whole wheat production followed a drop of 3.7% in the third quarter of 2013 versus July-September 2012; a 2.7% fall in the second quarter and a 0.1% gain in the first quarter.
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