First-quarter flour output gains 2.5%

by Allison Sebolt
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WASHINGTON — Flour production by U.S. mills in the first quarter of 2007 increased 2.5% from a year ago to a six-year high for January-March, according to data just issued by the Bureau of the Census. Output in January-March 2007 totaled 99,278,000 cwts, against 97,479,000 in the same 2006 period. It was the largest for the first quarter and was only narrowly exceeded by January-March 2001 at 99,449,000. The peak in first-quarter production was 101,110,000 in 2000. The recent low for January-March was in 2005, at 95,910,000. Daily capacity of U.S. mills in the first quarter averaged 1,508,000 cwts, up from 1,506,000 in October-December and 1,499,000 in the first quarter of 2006. Mills in the first quarter operated at 85.5% of six-day capacity, against 88.6% in October-December and 85.6% a year ago. Semolina output in the first quarter was 8,274,000 cwts, up 2.5% from 8,072,000 in January-March 2006. Among states in the first quarter, California-Hawaii output of 7,988,000 cwts topped Kansas at 7, 819,000. Minnesota, producing 7,272,000 cwts, was third.

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