WASHINGTON — Whole wheat flour production in 2018 totaled 22,343,000 cwts, down 176,000 cwts, or 0.8%, from 22,519,000 in 2017. The production figures were issued March 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Whole wheat flour production has held within a very tight band for the past three years — production was 22,414,000 cwts in 2016. By contrast, production was higher in 2015, at 24,115,000 cwts, and lower in 2014, at 21,312,000 cwts. Data from the most recent year suggest the public’s rising interest in whole wheat products has flattened, following a surge in the 2000s.
While there have been quarter-to-quarter swings in whole wheat flour production, the trailing-four-quarter production total for whole wheat flour has held between 22 million cwts and 23 million cwts for nine consecutive quarters. Additionally, the share of total flour production accounted for by whole wheat has remained flat for three years — 5.2% in 2018, 5.3% in 2017 and 2016, 5% in 2015 and 5.7% in 2014.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, whole wheat flour production was 5,531,000 cwts, down 101,000 cwts from 5,737,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2017. Production was down 3.2% from 5,715,000 cwts in the third quarter of 2018.
Whole wheat accounted for 5.1% of total U.S. flour production in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2017 and the third quarter of 2018.
Whole wheat semolina production remained modest in 2018. At 604,000 cwts, whole wheat semolina production was nearly unchanged form 607,000 in 2017. Whole wheat semolina accounted for 1.9% of all semolina production, versus 1.5% in 2017.
Excluding semolina, whole wheat flour production in 2018 was 21,739,000 cwts, down 0.8% from 21,912,000 in 2017. Production was 21,428,000 cwts in 2016.
In the fourth quarter, production of whole wheat flour excluding semolina was 5,371,000 cwts, down 67,000 cwts, or 1.2% from a year earlier and down 2.2% from 5,580,000 cwts in the third quarter. Ex-semolina whole wheat flour accounted for 5.4% of all ex-semolina flour production in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from 5.6% in 2017.