First-quarter flour output up 0.9% from year ago to record
by Neil Sosland
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WASHINGTON — U.S. flour production in the first quarter of 2014 as reported by the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) and interpolated by Milling & Baking News set a quarterly high, up 0.9% from the same 2013 period. The gain reflected the NAMA estimate of flour output by the mills it queries for January-March, at 98,737,000 cwts, compared with 97,888,000 in the first three months of last year.
In an attempt to approximate total U.S. output (including mills not included in the NAMA survey), Milling & Baking News divided the NAMA numbers by .951, unchanged from 2013 but down from .954 in 2012 and the last half of 2011 when NAMA replaced the Census Bureau. This reflects the estimates that covered mills represent 95.1% of daily milling capacity as shown in Grain & Milling Annual.
The resulting capacity-wide figures are a record output of 103,824,000 cwts in January-March 2014, up 0.9% from 102,932,000 in the first quarter of 2013. Production was up 0.4% from 103,462,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2012, the prior high.
Output in the first quarter of the current year was down 5.9% from 110,332,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2013, which was the all-time record for any quarter.
The 24-hour capacity of U.S. mills in January-March was similarly interpolated at 1,559,000 cwts, up 6,000 from the fourth quarter and 27,000 over the total for a year back. It was the largest since the all-time quarterly high of 1,604,000 in April-June 2001.
Mills in the first quarter of 2014 operated at 87.6% of six-day capacity, down from 92.3% in the fourth quarter and 88.4% a year ago. Grind in the first quarter of 2012 averaged 88.2% of six-day capacity.