Third-quarter flour production up 1.1%

by Neil Sosland
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Wheat flour production in July-September was 107,962,000 cwts.

WASHINGTON — Wheat flour production in July-September was 107,962,000 cwts, compared with 106,826,000 in the third quarter of 2014, an increase of 1.1%, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

July-September represented the fifth quarter NASS statistics have become available, meaning the latest quarter was the first for which year-earlier numbers were available for comparison. Third-quarter production in 2015 also was up 2.7% from 105,114,000 in the second.

Flour production in the first three quarters of 2015, or January-September, totaled 316,192,000 cwts, against 316,574,000 in the same period of 2014, down 0.1%. While all of the 2015 data were compiled by the NASS, for 2014 only the third-quarter data came from the NASS with the January-June numbers issued by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) based on panel of the largest U.S. mills. Those figures were interpolated by Milling & Baking News to make the data comparable with earlier statistics issued by the U.S. Census Bureau and later data from NASS.

Suggesting the recent downward trend in flour output has been checked, the four-quarter total (October 2014-September 2015) was 424,568,000 cwts —all NASS — compared with 423,432,000 for the four quarters ended June 30, 2015, also all NASS. But these numbers were slightly smaller than the annual mixed total for 2014 at 424,950,000 cwts and the peak 424,960,000 for the four quarters ended Sept. 30, 2014. The last Census numbers came out in the second quarter of 2011, when the four-quarter aggregate was 413,722,000 cwts.

The 24-hour flour milling capacity in September-October was placed by the NASS at 1,619,000 cwts, down 4,000 from the record 1,623,000 cwts in the second quarter but still 18,000 more than a year ago. Census showed 1,539,000 cwts in the second quarter of 2011.

Based on available NASS data, six-day milling grind in the third quarter was 86.6% of capacity, up from 84.1% in in the second quarter and a shade down from 86.7% a year ago.
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