WASHINGTON — In its 2016 summary published May 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reduced significantly its estimate of flour production last year from previous estimates. According to the U.S.D.A.’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, wheat flour output last year totaled 423,703,000 cwts, down 1,703,000, or 0.4%, from its initial estimates.
While the change was less than half of 1%, the adjustments changed the assessment of last year’s flour market considerably. The preliminary number, if substantiated, would have been a new output high. By contrast, the final summary figure was the smallest since 2012 when flour production was 420,365,000 cwts. Production in 2016 at 423,703,000 cwts compares with the high in 2014 of 424,950,000 cwts, followed by 2015 at 424,900,000 and 2013 at 424,550,000. Production in 2000 was also above 420 million cwts — at 421,270,000.
The downward revision was weighted heavily toward October-December wheat flour although there were changes all through the 2016 data involving wheat flour and rye flour production and capacity. Still, outside of the fourth-quarter wheat flour output, the differences generally were minor.Flour output for October-December was down 1,564,000 cwts from the preliminary. The July-September total was down 143,000. Durum semolina was down 168,000 cwts, all in the fourth quarter. Focusing on fourth-quarter decreases, Ohio accounted for 706,000 cwts; Michigan, 454,000; Maryland and Virginia, 173,000; and Pennsylvania, 49,000. Other adjustments were insignificant.