WASHINGTON — Exports of wheat flour from the United States in the first six months of 2010 soared 135% over the prior year to the largest first-half exports since 2002. According to Census Bureau data, U.S. flour exports in January-June reached 4,285,000 cwts, contrasted with 1,825,000 in the same period of 2009.

The first-half shipments were the largest for the period since 5,494,000 cwts were exported in January-June 2002. The recent low was 1,795,000 cwts in 2005, while the recent peak in January-June clearances was 8,356,000 in 2000.

Primarily driving the stepped-up flour exports were shipments of 1,508,000 cwts to Pakistan, ranking that country well in the lead as a destination for U.S. flour.

Canada, the No. 1 destination in recent years, was second, accounting for first-half shipments of 786,000 cwts. Mexico ranked third, at 595,000. Other destinations included Sri Lanka at 303,000 and Arab Emirates, 219,000.