Bag of flour
Daily capacity nears all-time high.

WASHINGTON — Flour production in the third quarter of 2016 totaled 107,815,000 cwts, down 0.1% from 107,879,000 a year ago, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Output rose 3.8% from the second quarter 103,823,000.

NASS data are now available for nine consecutive quarters, or since July-September 2014, when the agency took over from the North American Millers’ Association.

January-September flour output aggregated 315,543,000 cwts, down 0.2% from 316,099,000 in the first nine months of 2015. It also was 0.3% down from the record of 316,574,000 cwts in the first nine months of 2014. The latter total and earlier data were compiled by NAMA from a panel of U.S. flour milling companies, with subsequent interpolation by Milling & Baking News to make data comparable with prior statistics from the Census Bureau.

U.S. 24-hour flour milling capacity in April-June was a near record of 1,620,000 cwts, up from 1,615,000 in the second quarter and 3,000 over a year back. The daily capacity record was 1,621,000 cwts in April-June 2015. Flour mill operating rate in July-September was 86.4% of six-day daily capacity, up from 83.5% in the second quarter but down from 86.6% in the third quarter of 2015. It was the lowest operating rate for the third quarter in recent years.

NASS placed wheat grind in the third quarter at 233,236,000 bus, up 3.9% from 224,380,000 in the second quarter but down 0.8% from 235,001,000 a year ago.

Millfeed output in July-September totaled 1,686,927 tons, up 4.5% from 1,613,961 tons in the second but down 1.6% from 1,713,970 a year ago.

Semolina production in April-June totaled 7,667,000 cwts, up from 7,431,000 in the second quarter and 7,450,000 a year ago.

Rye flour production in the third quarter totaled 233,000 cwts, against 303,000 in the second quarter and 241,000 a year earlier.

NASS in the current report made modest downward revisions in its earlier second quarter output numbers. April-June capacity was raised 1,800 cwts.