WASHINGTON – First-quarter US flour production was 104,807,000 cwts, down 1,664,000 cwts, or 1.6%, from the first quarter of 2022, according to data issued May 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
Flour outturn in the first three months of this year was down 1,740,000 cwts, or 1.6%, from October-December 2022.
First-quarter flour production has swung wildly in recent years. At 104,807,000 cwts, production in January-March compared with 106,471,000 cwts in the first quarter of 2022, 103,635,000 cwts in 2021, the record 108,177,000 cwts in the first three months of 2020, 103,600,000 in 2019 and 106,612,000 in 2018.
Mills operated at 86.7% of six-day capacity in the first quarter of 2023, down from 87.5% in the same period last year and 87.3% in the October-December 2022 quarter. Mill grind in the first quarter was the lowest since 84.7% in the second quarter of 2021.
Daily flour production capacity in the first quarter of 2023 was 1,590,986 cwts, down 9,344 cwts, or 0.6%, from the first quarter last year. Capacity was up 6,300 cwts, or 0.4%, from the fourth quarter of 2022. Accounting for most of the change was a 5,000-cwt increase in daily production capacity in North Carolina.
The first-quarter flour extraction rate was 77.5%, up from 77.1% a year earlier and 76.7% in the fourth quarter of 2022. The extraction rate was the highest since 77.6% April-June 2020.
Wheat grind in the second quarter was 225,359,000 bus, down 4,909,000 bus, or 2.1%, from 230,268,000 cwts in the first quarter last year. Millfeed production was 1,618,954 tons, down 47,208, or 2.8%, from 1,666,162 tons.
NASS statistics have been published for 35 quarters and eight consecutive years (2015-2022). While 2015-2022 data were compiled by NASS, only the third and fourth quarters of 2014 came from NASS. January-June data of that year originated from a North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) panel of the largest US mills and were subsequently interpolated by Milling & Baking News to make the data comparable with earlier statistics compiled by the US Census Bureau.Semolina production in the first quarter was 8,343,000 cwts, up 10% from 7,616,000 cwts the same period in 2022.