Quarterly flour output third largest on record

by Neil Sosland
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WASHINGTON — U.S. flour production in the third quarter of 2007, July-September, totaled 108,637,000 cwts, a gain of 4.6% over 103,878,000 in the same quarter of 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of the Census. It was the largest output for a quarter in almost seven years, or since the all-time record in October-December 2000, when production was 109,673,000 cwts. The only other quarter in which production was larger was July-September 2000, when it was 108,838,000.

July-September 2008 also was the ninth successive quarter in which output exceeded a year earlier. The four preceding quarters had been less than a year earlier. July-September output gained 6.2% from 102,321,000 in April-June.

The Census Bureau estimated 24-hour capacity of U.S. mills in July-September at 1,532,000 cwts, up from 1,528,000 in the second quarter and from 1,501,000 a year ago. Mills in the quarter operated at 93.3% of six-day capacity, the highest since October-December 2000, when the average was 94.3%. It also was up sharply from 87% in April-June and above 89.9% a year ago.

Flour output in the first nine months of 2007 aggregated 310,754,000 cwts, up 4.1% from 298,410,000 in the same 2006 period. It was the second largest three-quarter total on record, topped barely by the record January-September 2000 total at 311,597,000. January-September 1999 totaled 303,755,000. The three years were the only ones in which 300 million cwts were topped by the end of September.

Durum semolina output in the third quarter was 8,624,000 cwts, up 8.8% from 7,929,000 a year earlier. It was the largest quarter since January-March 2001 when it was 8,680,000. Semolina production in January-September totaled 24,770,000, up 4.5% from 23,714,000 in 2006.

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