WASHINGTON — Wheat flour production (including durum semolina) by U.S. flour mills in 2015 aggregated 424,894,000 cwts, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. NASS statistics were now available for six consecutive quarters and this was the first time for an entire calendar year. Output in 2015 was virtually unchanged, actually down 56,000 cwts, from the output high of 424,950,000 cwts posted in 2014.
While all of the 2015 data were compiled by NASS, for 2014 only the third and fourth quarters came from NASS. January-June data originated from a North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) panel of the largest U.S. mills and subsequently interpolated by Milling & Baking News to make the data comparable with earlier statistics compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau.
NASS also reported 2015 semolina output at 30,394,000 cwts, down 1% (470,000) from 30,864,000 in 2014. While NASS data are available for July-December 2015, NAMA did not provide semolina statistics for the first half of 2014 but were estimated by this publication. Consequently, flour production ex semolina in 2015 was estimated at 394,500,000 cwts, up 1% (414,000 cwts) from the previous yearly high of 394,086,000 in 2014. Because of the lack of statistical rigor in establishing semolina numbers between the end of Census compilations and the start of NASS, these comparisons should be addressed with caution.
The 24-hour capacity of U.S. flour mills for the fourth quarter was placed at 1,618,000 cwts, up 17,000 from a year ago. It was up just 1,000 from the third quarter.
Based on available data, mills operated at an average of 85.6% of six-day capacity in 2015, down from 87.4% in the prior year.According to NASS, October-December flour output totaled 108,785,000 cwts, up 0.8% from 107,879,000 in the third and 0.4% above 108,376,000 a year ago. All of these numbers were compiled by NASS. Mills operated at 87.3% of capacity in the fourth, up from 86.6% in the third but below 87.9% a year ago.