WASHINGTON — In what hopefully is a short-lived downtrend, flour production by U.S. mills in the second quarter of 2009 fell short of a year earlier, down 0.5% from the same 2008 quarter, according to data issued by the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Output in April-June totaled 101,997,000 cwts, a decrease of 511,000 cwts from 102,508,000 in the second quarter of 2008.
April-June output marked the fourth successive quarter running behind a year earlier. Decreases ranged from 2,845,000 cwts in October-December to 511,000 cwts in the second quarter of this year. This decreasing trend followed a record 12 successive quarters in which output surpassed a year earlier, extending from July-September 2005 through April-June 2008. The increases in this stretch ranged from 4,693,000 cwts in October-December 2007 to only 7,000 cwts in April-June 2008. This followed four successive quarters of decreases from a year earlier and five earlier increases.
Record flour production for a quarter was in October-December 2000, at 109,673,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2007 at 109,017,000 and July-September 2000 at 108,838,000. Output in 36 quarters has exceeded 100 million cwts.
This year was the fourth largest April-Juneon record. The peak was 1999 at 103,463,000 cwts, followed by 2008 at 102,508,000, 2007 at 102,501,000 and 2009 at 101,997,000.
Second-quarter flour production in 2009 increased 1.3% over the revised 100,693,000 cwts in January-March.
April-June durum semolina production was up 4.5% from a year ago; it was down 2.6% from the first quarter. Flour output-ex-semolina changes paralleled the overall totals. In April-June it totaled 94,016,000 cwts, down 0.9% from 94,872,000 in the same quarter of 2008. It also was up 0.5% from 92,501,000 in the first quarter of the year. The record for quarterly flour-ex-semolina output occurred in October-December 2000 at 101,929,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2000 at 100,909,000 and July-September 2008 at 100,626,000.
Production and daily flour milling capacity are fully comparable with earlier data beginning in 2000. Prior to 2000, the Census Bureau had not included data for durum semolina output at mills connected to pasta manufacturing plants.
The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilation of these quarterly milling statistics.
Monthly flour production in the second quarter averaged 33,999,000 cwts, compared with 33,564,000 in the first quarter and 34,169,000 in April-June 2008.
Average flour production per working day in April-June, based on a six-day week and calculated by Milling & Baking News, was 1,325,000 cwts, unchanged from January-March but down from 1,331,000 cwts in April-June 2008. It was the 25th-highest daily average for a quarter. The record average production per day occurred in October-December 2000 at 1,443,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2007 at 1,434,000, 1,413,000 in July-September 2000 and 1,405,000 both in July-September 2008 and October-December 1999.
Average daily output in the second quarter was based on 77 working days, up from 76 in the first quarter and unchanged from the same quarter in 2008.
Capacity total at 1,533,000 cwts
The Census Bureau placed the 24-hour capacity of U.S. mills in the second quarter at 1,533,000 cwts, up 2,000 from January-March but down 23,000 from the same quarter of 2008. Peak U.S. flour milling daily capacity was in April-June 2001 at 1,604,000 cwts, followed by January-March 2001 at 1,588,000, and April-June 2008 at 1,556,000.
Mills at 86.4% of six-day capacity
Based on these capacity data, U.S. mills in April-June 2009 operated at 86.4% of six-day capacity, compared with 86.5% in January-March and 85.6% in April-June 2008. The recent low in grind occurred in April-June 2001, at 78.7%. The latter was the slowest operating rate since April-June 1977, when it was 77.8%. The last time grind topped 90% was October-December 2000 when it was 94.3%; however, it was 89.9% as recently as July-September 2006.
Wheat grind in April-June totaled 218,973,000 bus, down 2.4% from 224,304,000 in the same quarter of 2008. Peak quarterly wheat grind was in October-December 2000 at 247,738,000 bus, followed by July-September 2000 at 244,685,000, and October-December 1999 at 242,175,000. Wheat grind in April-June 2009 increased 0.7% over 217,498,000 in January-March.
Average flour extraction in April-June, as calculated by Milling & Baking News, was a record 77.6%, up from 77.2% in the first quarter and 76.2% in April-June 2008. These numbers represent a marked rebound from the recent extraction low of 73.2% in April-June 2001. The latter was the lowest extraction rate in more than 25 years. The previous long-standing record high for a quarter was 76.8% in July-September 1996.
Millfeed production in April-June totaled 1,599,152 tons, down 6% from 1,702,000 in the same quarter of 2008. Record millfeed production was in October-December 2000 at 1,947,407 tons, followed by July-September of that year at 1,902,206. Millfeed production in the second 2009 quarter was 1.2% above 1,579,805 in January-March.
January-June flour down 0.6%
Flour output in January-June 2009 totaled 202,690,000 cwts, down 0.6% from the record 203,890,000 in the first half of 2008. It was 202,756,000 in the first half of 2007, which was the third largest and down from 202,759,000 in the first half of 2000, an earlier high.
Output was 196,072,000 cwts in the first two quarters of 2006, 192,150,000 in 2005, 193,348,000 in 2004, 192,642,000 in 2003, 192,293,000 in January-June 2002, and 196,638,000 in the first half of 2001.
Average monthly flour production in the first half of 2009 was 33,782,000 cwts, which compared with 33,982,000 in January-June 2008.
January-June production of flour-ex-semolina totaled 186,517,000 cwts, down 1% from the record 188,395,000 in the first half of 2008. It was virtually unchanged from 186,572,000 in the first half of 2007, but was 4.3% over the first half of 2006. It was 186,683,000 in 2000.
Average overall flour output per working day in the first six months of 2009 was 1,325,000 cwts, against 1,324,000 in the same period of 2008. It was 1,317,000 in the first half of 2007. Six-day grind in the first half of 2009 comprised 153 days, up from 154 in 2008.
Average rate of grind in the first half of 2009 was 86.5% of six-day capacity, up from 85.4% in January-June 2008. This compared with 86.1% in January-June 2007, 85.5% in 2006, 84.1% in 2005, 85% in 2004 and 83.7% in 2003.
Wheat grind in the first half of 2009 aggregated 436,471,000 bus, down 2.5% from 447,484,000 in the first half of 2008. It was 448,156,000 in 2007 and 433,223,000 in 2006.
Flour extraction rate for the first half of 2009 averaged a record 77.4%, up from 76% in 2008, 75.4% in the first half of both 2007 and 2006, 74.3% in 2005 and 75.1% in the first half of 2004. It was 74.1% in the first half of 2003.
Millfeed production in the first half of 2009 totaled 3,178,957 tons, down 5.6% from 3,366,474 in 2008. It was 3,448,659 in the first half of 2007 and 3,407,792 in 2006.