First-quarter flour output down 0.5% from year earlier

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — U.S. flour production in the first quarter of 2013 as reported by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and interpolated by Milling & Baking News was down 0.5% from the same quarter a year ago. The change was calculated based on a NAMA estimate of flour output for January-March at 97,888,000 cwts by the mills it queries, compared with 98,703,000 in the first three months of 2012.

In an attempt to approximate the total U.S. output (including mills not included in the NAMA survey), Milling & Baking News divided the NAMA numbers by .951, down from .954 in 2012 and the last half of 2011 when NAMA replaced the Census Bureau. This reflects estimates on the capacity of the NAMA panel against overall U.S. levels as published in the Grain & Milling Annual.

The resulting figures are 102,932,000 cwts in January-March 2013, down 0.5% from 103,462,000 in the first quarter of 2012. At the same time, production was up 2.9% from 100,024,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2011. Output in the first quarter of the current year was down 3.1% from 106,213,000 cwts in the fourth quarters of 2012.

The 24-hour capacity of U.S. mills in January-March is similarly interpolated at 1,532,000 cwts, down 2,000 from the fourth quarter but 9,000 over the revised total for a year back. However, it was still down 7,000 from January-March 2011 when it was 1,539,000. Mills in the first quarter of 2013 operated at 88.4% of six-day capacity, off from 89.9% in the fourth quarter but up from 88.2% a year ago. Grind in the first quarter of 2011 averaged 85.5% of six-day capacity.

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