WASHINGTON — Lifted by a stunning jump in fourth-quarter output, U.S. flour production in 2013 reached a new record, according to data provided by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) as interpolated by Milling & Baking News. The total of 2013 flour production was 424,550,000 cwts, up 1% from 420,365,000 in 2012 and 0.8% above the prior peak of 421,270,000 cwts in 2000. Despite the record, the rate of grind of U.S. flour mills slipped to 89.4% of six-day capacity in 2013 from 89.5% in 2012. Additionally, it’s likely that per capita consumption of flour in 2013 rose little, if at all, from the previous year. Flour milling data are compiled for NAMA by Veris Consulting, Inc.

In recent years, fourth-quarter flour production has lagged third-quarter output. This year, October-December output totaled a record 110,332,000 cwts, marking the first time quarterly flour production eclipsed the 110-million-cwt mark. Production in the quarter was up 3.9% from 106,213,000 cwts a year back and was up 3.5% from July-September production of 106,598,000 cwts. The October-December 2013 figure broke the 13-year-old record for any quarter of 109,673,000 cwts in October-December 2000. The third largest quarter was July-September 2007 at 109,673,000 cwts and the fourth was July-September 2000 at 108,383,000.

As reported by NAMA (before interpolation), flour production by participating mills was 104,926,000 cwts in the fourth quarter, against 101,375,000 in the third, 99,558,000 in the second and 97,888,000 in the first for an aggregate of 403,747,000 cwts, against 401,028,000 for the industry for 2012. In order to make NAMA numbers comparable with the earlier U.S. Census Bureau data dating back decades, Milling & Baking News estimated the NAMA output at 95.1% of the U.S. milling total in 2013 (based on production capacity share), against  95.4% in 2012 and in the last half of 2011 after the Census halted its reports.