WASHINGTON — Wheat flour production (including durum) in January-March 2015 totaled 103,116,000 cwts, down 0.7% from the first quarter of 2014. The 2015 figure was included in the first Flour Milling Products report issued May 1 by the by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The 2014 figure was based on data gathered by Veris Consulting, Inc., on behalf of the North American Millers’ Association and subsequently extrapolated by Milling & Baking News to encompass the entire U.S. flour milling industry.

Although NASS, NAMA (as interpolated) and earlier Census statistics are strictly not comparable, initial indications suggest they are close enough to provide meaningful comparisons. In addition to first-quarter 2015 flour data, NASS also published production data for the final two quarters of 2014, allowing for side by side comparisons with the NAMA figures.

The 24-hour milling capacity in January-March was estimated by NASS at 1,602,000 cwts, just shy of the previous old Census record and up 1,000 cwts from NASS  estimates for the third and fourth quarters of 2014.  The interpolated NAMA daily milling capacity was 1,559,000 cwts in January-March 2014. Census showed 1,539,000 in the first quarter of 2011.

Based on available NASS data, six-day grind in the first quarter was 84.7%, off from 87.9% in October-December and 86.7% in July-December. NAMA numbers suggest 87.6% a year ago. The Census in the first quarter of 2011 was 85.5%.