Whole wheat flour outturn rebounds in first quarter

by Josh Sosland
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2016 total revised downward.

WASHINGTON — Whole wheat flour production in the first three months of 2017 totaled 5,812,000 cwts, up 5% from 5,519,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2016, according to data published May 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The whole wheat production increase interrupted a string of four consecutive quarters in which whole wheat flour production was down from the year before.

At 5,812,000 cwts, whole wheat flour production was up 7% from the previous quarter (October-December 2016).

Whole wheat production in the first quarter equated to 5.5% of total U.S. flour production versus 5.3% in the first quarter of 2016.

Whole wheat semolina production was estimated by the NASS at 169,000 cwts, down 19% from 209,000 cwts in January-March 2016. Quarterly whole wheat semolina production was 8% smaller than 184,000 cwts produced in the first quarter of 2016.

Whole wheat semolina accounted for 2.1% of all semolina production in the first quarter of 2017, compared with 2.7% in the same quarter of 2016. Since January-March 2016, the share of whole wheat semolina has held between 2.1% and 2.3%.

In its annual flour production summary, also published May 1, the NASS revised downward its estimated whole wheat production for 2016. Production for the year was 22,168,000 cwts, down 246,000 cwts, or 1.1%, from 22,414,000 cwts as the original estimate. Production in 2016 was down 8% from 24,115,000 cwts in 2015. Production in 2014 was 21,312,000 cwts.

Accounting for the downward revision in 2016 from the preliminary estimate was a 269,000 cwt-cut in estimated fourth-quarter production, to 5,410,000 cwts. The other adjustments, all upward, were small. 
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