WASHINGTON — Production of whole wheat flour in 2017 was 22,514,000 cwts, up 350,000 cwts, or 1.8%, from 22,164,000 cwts in 2016, according to data issued Feb. 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Whole wheat flour production has fluctuated without clear direction the last few years. At 22,514,000 cwts, 2017 production was smaller than 24,115,000 cwts in 2015 but larger than 21,312,000 cwts in 2014.
Whole wheat flour production accounted for 5.3% of U.S. flour production in 2017, up from 5.2% in 2016 but down from 5.7% in 2015.
Helping the year-to-year comparison for whole wheat flour production was a significant downward revision for the fourth quarter of 2016 estimate — down 269,000 cwts from the initial NASS figure for the fourth quarter.
Overall fourth-quarter whole wheat flour production in 2017 was 5,732,000 cwts, up 322,000 cwts, or 6%, from the revised 5,410,000 cwts in October-December 2016. Whole wheat flour production accounted for 5.3% of all wheat flour production during the quarter.
At 5,732,000 cwts, whole wheat flour production was smaller than 6,154,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2015 but larger than 5,449,000 cwts in the same period in 2014.
Whole wheat semolina and durum flour production in 2017, as reported by NASS, was 605,000 cwts, down 18% from 736,000 cwts in 2017.
In the fourth quarter, whole wheat semolina production fell to a new low — 120,000 cwts. Production was down 35% from 184,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2016 and down 38% from 194,000 cwts in the third quarter of 2017. Whole wheat accounted for 1.4% of all semolina production in the fourth quarter. The previous quarterly low for whole wheat semolina production was 125,000 cwts, in the second quarter of 2017. The recent high was 339,000 cwts, in the third quarter of 2015.Excluding semolina, whole wheat flour production in the fourth quarter was 5,612,000 cwts, up 7% from 5,226,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2016. Whole wheat accounted for 5.6% of the ex-semolina wheat flour market in the fourth quarter, up from 5.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016.