LONDON — The slight uptrend in global flour production indicated previously in data compiled by the International Grains Council appeared to be continuing in the latest information covering the 2012 calendar year. The I.G.C. collection of flour milling data from around the world has lagged by several years the current twelvemonth since the studies began several decades ago. In addition, current data are not available for the two largest wheat milling countries, China and India. Thus, the assumption of the direction in annual global flour output does not reflect knowledge of all major producers. Additionally, changes were mainly noted among the countries producing at least 1 million tonnes per year.
While fractional production gains dominated among the major national flour producers providing figures to the I.G.C., several significant reductions also occurred.
Decreases were especially severe in the European Union, including a drop of 12.4% for Germany, the bloc’s largest flour miller, at 5,598,000 tonnes in 2012. France, the second largest E.U. miller, turned out 4,445,000 tonnes, down 1% from 2011. One of the sharpest cuts for any country was 29.5% in The Netherlands. Output in the U.K. in 2012 totaled 4.1 million tonnes, the same as the prior year. Italian output also held quite steady, at 3,884,000 tonnes, a level that has ruled for five successive years.
With no data provided for the two largest flour producers, China and India, the United States maintained its rank as the major milling nation in the I.G.C. global compilation. U.S. mills produced 19,067,000 tonnes of wheat flour in 2012, the I.G.C. said, up 4.6% from the previous year. This was one of the largest annual U.S. gains in some time.
The I.G.C. calculations, which include Canada and Mexico, provide a total for North American mills, at 24,465,000 tonnes in 2012. That was up 3.3% from the preceding year and followed a decrease of 2.6% between 2010 and 2011.
The second largest national producer after the United States was Russia, placed at 10.2 million tonnes in 2012, up 2% from the previous year. This represented a continuing rebound from the recent low for Russia of 8,960,000 tonnes in 2010.
Neighboring Kazakhstan, a former member of the Soviet Union and currently one of the major flour exporting nations, produced 4,009,000 tonnes in 2012, up 4.2% from 2011. This increase followed gains in the several prior years from 2,904,000 tonnes in 2008. Another Russian neighbor, Poland, produced 3.2 million tonnes of flour, down 13.5% from 2011.
South American flour output varied among countries largely depending on the quality and quantity of domestic wheat production. Brazil, the continent’s most populous nation, milled 8,165,000 tonnes, up 2.6% from the previous calendar year.
Argentina, which exports large quantities to Brazil, turned out 4,537,000 tonnes of flour in 2012, down 5.5% from 2011. Other South American producers showed slight gains.
The only Middle East country for which the I.G.C. has current output data was Turkey, producing 7,697,000 tonnes, down 1.5% from the prior year. Turkey and Kazakhstan are leading flour shippers, and Turkey’s current output reflected a sharp rise over 5,720,000 tonnes five years ago in 2008. Turkey now ranks among the world’s leading flour milling countries.
The vast “hole” created by the absence of China’s flour output data was emphasized by recognizing that its last report on flour production, in 2008, was 79,371,000 tonnes of wheat flour, more than four times the U.S. output in the same year. Without China and India, Indonesia and Japan were the largest flour producers in Asia. Indonesia turned out 5,053,000 tonnes, up 25% from 2011 in a pattern of sharp annual gains. Mills in Japan produced 4,853,000 tonnes, down 0.9% from the preceding year.
Reflecting the lack of data on Nigeria’s output, Egypt and South Africa were the two principal flour millers in Africa. Mills in Egypt turned out 5,913,000 tonnes, up 43.3% from 2011. But output in 2011 was down 22.5% from 2010 when the aggregate was 5,325,000.
South African mills produced 2,454,000 tonnes, a gain of 4.1% over the previous year. Sudan also showed three years of increases, to reach 1,450,000 tonnes in 2012.Australia, known to be a substantial wheat miller, has not submitted data to the I.G.C. since 2008 when it made 2,252,000 tonnes of wheat flour.