WASHINGTON — Spurred by a heavy outflow to Pakistan, U.S. flour exports in the first quarter of 2010 soared to the largest total in eight years. It is likely that the flour sent to Pakistan was relief supplies intended for destinations in strife-torn Afghanistan.

The total of January-March flour exports from the United States was 2,299,000 cwts, contrasted with 946,000 in the same three months of last year and the recent low of 806,000 in 2006.

The three-month outgo was the largest since 2,899,000 cwts were exported in the first quarter of 2002. As recently as 2000, U.S. flour exports in January-March totaled 4,934,000 cwts, while the peak was 8,468,000 in the first three months of 1983.

Pakistan alone accounted for January-March shipments of 971,000 cwts, or 42% of the quarter total. Shipments to that country in March alone were 557,000 cwts. The first quarter exports to Pakistan were already well ahead of the 641,000 cwts shipped to that country in all of 2009 when it ranked third in shipments.

Other significant destinations for U.S. flour exports in January-March were Canada and Mexico, which have led as outlets for some years. Exports to Canada in the quarter totaled 370,000 cwts and Mexico accounted for 255,000.