WASHINGTON — Midwestern states posted wide variations in flour output in the first nine months of 2009 compared with last year, while relatively small changes occurred in other areas, according to data of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau. Output in the hard winter belt lost share, while mills in the spring wheat states recorded a gain. The Census data also indicate that although U.S. output was down slightly in January-September from 2008, more areas showed gains than losses.

U.S. production in January-September aggregated 311,273,000 cwts, down 0.3% from 312,065,000 in the same 2008 period.

The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilation of these milling statistics.

In the hard winter belt, made up of Kansas; Oklahoma and Colorado; Nebraska and Iowa; and Texas, January-September output totaled 62,391,000 cwts, against 64,051,000 in the same nine months of 2008, down 2.6%. This output accounted for 20% of the national total in 2009, against 20.5% in 2008. Mills in this area ran at 88.7% of six-day capacity in the third quarter, up from 86.4% a year back.

The spring wheat region, comprising Minnesota; North Dakota; and Montana and Idaho, produced 44,589,000 cwts in the first nine months of 2009, up 2.8% from 43,373,000 a year back. This represented 14.3% of the national total, against 13.9% a year back. These mills operated at 85.4% of six-day capacity in the third quarter, against 84.2% in 2008.

Central states output, which includes Missouri; Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin; Michigan (interpolated); and Ohio, came to 69,490,000 cwts in the first nine months of 2009, down 0.8% from 70,074,000 in 2008. Central states’ share for 2009 was 22.3%, down from 22.5% a year ago. However, these mills ran at 97.4% of six-day capacity in the third quarter, down from 98.8% a year earlier.

In the South, made up of Alabama and Louisiana; Georgia, Florida and South Carolina; North Carolina; Tennessee

and Kentucky; and Virginia and Maryland, January-September output totaled 53,159,000 cwts, up 0.6% from 52,857,000 a year earlier. These mills ran 90.7% in the third quarter, down from 92.5% a year earlier.

Western mills, incorporating California; Washington and Oregon; and Utah, turned out 36,914,000 cwts in the nine months, down 0.4% from 37,058,000 a year ago. Western mills had an 11.9% share in January-September, unchanged from 2008. These mills ran 90.8% in the third quarter, down from 92.3% a year back.

Mills of the Eastern states, including Pennsylvania as well as New York and New Jersey, produced 38,520,000 cwts, up 1.5% from 37,968,000 a year back. Mills in this region ran at 96.3% in the third quarter, up from 95.4% a year back.

Flour production in 13 states and state-groupings in the first nine months of 2009 increased over the same three quarters in 2008. Seven posted decreases from the prior year, according to Census data. U.S. flour output in January-September totaled 311,273,000 cwts, down 792,000, or 0.3%, from the record 312,065,000 in the same three quarters of 2008.

North Dakota spurt

The sharpest increase for January-September 2009 flour output occurred in North Dakota, up 11.9% from 2008, followed by Virginia and Maryland combined, up 10.1%; Nebraska and Iowa, up 8.6%; Montana and Idaho, up 7.9%; Alabama and Louisiana, up 5.8%; North Carolina, up 4%; Washington and Oregon, up 3.3%; New York and New Jersey, up 2.7%; Texas, up 0.8%; Oklahoma and Colorado, up 0.7%; Ohio, up 0.6%; Pennsylvania and California, both up 0.1%.

The steepest output decrease was in Kansas, down 10.8% from the prior year, followed by Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, down 6.6%; Utah, down 4.5%; Tennessee and Kentucky, down 4.3%; Missouri, down 3.8%;

Minnesota, down 1.6% as well as Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, down 1.4%.

Data for “all other states” were not provided in the current report. All other states include Arizona, Hawaii, Maine and Massachusetts.

Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin lead

Leading the nation in flour output, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin mills produced 23,920,000 cwts in the first nine months of 2009, down 1.4% from 24,267,000 in the previous year. This state-grouping accounted for 7.7% of the nation’s output, off from 7.8% a year ago.

In second place was California, which produced 22,943,000 cwts, up 0.1% from 22,923,000 a year back. The latter accounted for 7.4% of the U.S. aggregate, up from 7.3%.

Kansas was third at 22,683,000 cwts, down 10.8% from 25,434,000 cwts. Kansas shared in 7.3% of the national total, down from 8.2% a year ago. Incidentally, Kansas again led the country in July-September by itself.

Ranking fourth came Minnesota at 21,190,000 cwts, down 1.6% from 21,529,000 a year back. Minnesota mills were 6.8% of the total, down from 6.9% a year back.

New York and New Jersey ranked fifth at 20,977,000 cwts, up 2.7% from 20,433,000 a year ago. Missouri was sixth at 19,799,000, against 20,585,000, down 3.8%; Ohio was seventh at 19,445,000, up 0.6% over 19,338,000; Pennsylvania was eighth at 17,560,000, up

0.1% over 17,535,000 a year ago.

Other states with nine-month data available were North Dakota, 15,209,000 cwts; Nebraska and Iowa, 14,991,000; Texas, 14,314,000; Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, 13,137,000; North Carolina, 11,362,000; Tennessee and Kentucky, 10,926,000; Oklahoma and Colorado, 10,688,000; Virginia and Maryland, 8,907,000; Montana and Idaho, 8,905,000; Alabama and Louisiana, 8,844,000; Utah, 7,562,000 as well as Washington and Oregon, 6,415,000. 

Small uptick in capacity

Daily flour milling capacity for 11 states and state-groupings in the third quarter was up from the same quarter in 2008. Six were down and four unchanged. U.S. capacity between the two quarters decreased 8,801 cwts. All other states were unchanged.

Tennessee and Kentucky increased 5,100 cwts followed by Nebraska and Iowa, up 3,120; California, up 2,800; Washington and Oregon, up 2,000; New York and New Jersey, up 1,500; Oklahoma and Colorado as well as North Dakota, up 1,000; Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, up 900; Pennsylvania as well as Ohio, up 500; and Texas, up 400.

By far the sharpest daily capacity change was in Kansas, down 21,000 cwts; followed by North Carolina, down 2,500; Missouri, down 1,871; Minnesota, down 1,500; Virginia and Maryland, down 650, and Michigan, down 100.

Similarly in the third quarter of 2009 rate of grind as compared with a year earlier increased in eight states and decreased in 13. The U.S. average run rate was barely up, at 91.1%. Among the states the sharpest increase was in North Dakota, up 13.6 percentage points to 88.3%, followed by Kansas, up nine to 90.5%; Virginia and Maryland, up 7.2 to 86.6%; North Carolina, up 6.4 to 91.4%; Alabama and Louisiana, up 4.7 to 106.5%; New York and New Jersey, up 3.2 to 97.8%; Michigan, up 0.9 to 90.4%, and California, up 0.7 to 91.6%.

The sharpest decrease was in Tennessee and Kentucky, down 13.6 percentage points to 97.1%, followed by Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, down 10.7 to 79.4%; Utah, down 6.3 to 90.3%; Montana and Idaho, down 5.8 to 94.1%; Minnesota, down 4.9 to 80.6%; Nebraska and Iowa, down 4.3 to 98.8%; Ohio, down 3.2 to 100.6%; Washington and Oregon, down 2.6 to 88.7%; Pennsylvania, down 2 to 94.4%; Oklahoma and Colorado, down 1.8 to 88.3%; Texas, down 1.8 to 77.9%; Missouri, down 1.1 to 93.4%, and Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, down 1 to 100.7%.