Flour production rises in 2020 | 2021-02-01

WASHINGTON — Wheat flour production by US flour mills in 2020 totaled 425,338,000 cwts, up 3,061,000 cwts, or 0.7{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from 422,277,000 cwts in 2019, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture.

Production in 2020, the third largest yearly total on record, was down 1,533,000 cwts, or 0.4{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from the all-time high of 426,871,000 in 2018 and 1,061,000, or 0.2{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from 426,399,000 in 2017.  Following these top three years all totaling 425 million cwts or more, three other recent years topped 424 million ranging from 424,950,000 cwts in 2014 to 424,550,000 in 2013. Output in 2015 was 424.9 million.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, flour output totaled 106,987,000 cwts, down 1,596,000, or 1.5{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from 108,583,000 in the third quarter and down 933,000, or 0.9{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from 107,920,000 cwts in October-December 2019.

The 24-hour capacity of US flour mills for the fourth quarter was estimated at 1,580,410 cwts, down 22,100 cwts from 1,602,510 in the third and down 69,340 from 1,649,750 a year ago. The record was 1,674,210 in July-September 2019.

Based on the NASS data, mills operated at an average of 86.1{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} of six-day capacity in 2020, up from 83.2{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} in the prior year, the lowest for NASS data.  Calculating utilization rates based on fourth-quarter capacity, 2020 grind was 87.4{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, up from 83.4{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} in 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2020, mills operated at 87.9{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} of capacity, down from 88{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} in the third quarter but up from 85{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124} a year ago.

Wheat grind in 2020 totaled 918,013,000 bus, up from 912,609,000 in 2019. The high was 944,868,000 in 2000. Millfeed production in 2020 aggregated 6,539,259 tons, up from 6,485,291 in 2019. The record was 7,374,115 tons in 2000.

NASS statistics have been published for 26 consecutive quarters and six consecutive years (2015-2020). While 2015-2020 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.

NASS also estimated 2020 semolina output at a record 33,802,000 cwts, up 2,270,000, or 7.2{2be9e0ed3ca9ccbec52b0231822c6f1fda346690d3a01794d48870672da60124}, from 31,532,000 in 2019. It was 31,951,000 cwts in 2018 and 31,799,000 in 2017. Production was 32,930,000 cwts in 2011 as interpolated by Milling & Baking News but also 32,747,000 cwts in 2010 and 32,804,000 in 2007 when the Census still issued annual data.