WASHINGTON — Whole wheat flour production in January-March was 5,250,000 cwts, up 390,000 cwts, or 8%, from the first quarter of 2021, according to data issued May 2 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture. It was the fourth consecutive quarter in which whole wheat flour production was up from the year before.
At 5,250,000 cwts, whole wheat flour production was still well below 5,890,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2020 and 5,498,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2019. Indeed, other than last year, first-quarter whole wheat flour production was larger than 2022 in every year tracked by the USDA except 2014, when production was 5,140,000 cwts.
Whole wheat flour production was up 3.2% from a revised 5,088,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2021. The October-December figure was revised downward by 176,000 cwts. First-quarter production in 2021, at 4,860,000 cwts, was revised upward by 33,000 cwts from earlier estimates.
Whole wheat flour production accounted for 4.9% of total US flour production in the first quarter, up from 4.7% a year ago and in October-December 2021.
Whole wheat semolina/durum flour production in January-March was 95,000 cwts, down 48,000 cwts, or 34%, from 143,000 cwts in the first quarter of last year. It was the smallest quarterly whole wheat semolina production total since the USDA began tracking flour production data in 2014 and was the first quarter during this period in which whole wheat flour production failed to top 100,000 cwts. The previous low for any quarter was 122,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2017. The record high for a quarter was 407,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2014.
First-quarter whole wheat semolina production was down 47% from a revised 179,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2021. The fourth-quarter figure was slashed in half, down 176,000 cwts from the 355,000 cwts initially estimated by the USDA. At 355,000 cwts, the first estimate for October-December was an outlier figure, larger than any single quarter of whole wheat semolina production in more than seven years.
At 95,000 cwts, whole wheat semolina production accounted for 1.2% of total US semolina production, down from 1.8% in the first quarter last year, 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the smallest on record.Production of whole wheat flour, ex-durum, was 5,155,000 cwts, up 438,000 cwts, or 9%, from 4,717,000 cwts in the first quarter last year. Whole wheat flour, ex-semolina, accounted for 5.2% of all flour production ex-semolina, the highest share in eight quarters. Production was up 5% from 4,909,000 cwts in the fourth quarter of 2021.