WASHINGTON — Lifted by sluggish population growth and record imports, per capita consumption of flour edged upward in 2018, topping 132 lbs for the first time since 2015, according to data published by the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At 132.1 lbs, per capita consumption of flour was up 0.3 lbs, or a quarter of one per cent, from 131.8 in 2017 and compared with 131.7 in 2016.
Other than the past two years, per capita flour consumption in 2018 was the smallest in decades and well below the recent peak of 138.3 lbs in 2007.
Helping per capita consumption score a gain in 2018 was a marked decline in the birthrate. The population last year averaged 328,631,000, up 0.19% from 327,997,000 in 2017. The increase was the smallest on record and was negligible compared with 0.77% the previous two years and the recent peak of 1.2% in 2015.
Wheat flour production in 2018 was 426,871,000 cwts, up 0.11% (less than population growth) from 2017. Imports of flour last year were 15,597,000 cwts, up 4.9% from 14,863,000 cwts the year before. Flour exports in 2018 slumped to the lowest level in four years — 5,675,000 cwts, down 9% from 6,204,000 in 2017.
Overall domestic disappearance of flour in 2017 was 434,191,000 cwts, up 0.44% from 432,284,000 last year.