Third-quarter flour output down 0.5% from 2008

by Staff
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WASHINGTON — Flour production by U.S. mills in the third quarter of 2009 decreased 0.5% from the same period last year, according to the Bureau of the Census of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Output in the three months totaled 107,607,000 cwts, down 568,000 cwts from 108,175,000 in July-September 2008.

The decrease from July-September 2008 contrasted with a gain of 465,000 in April-June, but that in turn followed three successive reductions ranging from 689,000 to 2,845,000. Next came a record-breaking 12 consecutive quarterly increases, ranging from 7,000 cwts to 4,603,000.

Production of flour by U.S. mills in the first nine months of 2009 amounted to 311,273,000 cwts, down 792,000 from the record 312,065,000 in the same 2008 period. The nine-month output for 2007 totaled 311,773,000, or slightly above the third largest nine-month output of 311,597,000 in 2000. Output in 2006 aggregated 300,931,000. The nine-month aggregate in 1999 was 303,755,000 cwts. These six years are the only time nine-month production topped the 300-million-mark.

The North American Millers’ Association provides funding to the Census Bureau in support of the compilation of these production statistics.

July-September 2009 output was the sixth largest for any quarter in history. The record three-month output occurred in October-December 2000, when mills produced 109,673,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2007 at 109,017,000, July-September 2000 at 108,838,000, and October-December 1999 at 108,213,000. So far, U.S. flour output in 37 quarters has exceeded 100 million cwts.

Output in July-September 2009 was also the fourth largest for that quarter. The record for July-September occurred in 2007 at 109,017,000 cwts followed by 2000, at 108,838,000 and 2008 at 108,175,000. The smallest output for the third quarter in recent history was 68,366,000 cwts in 1977. July-September flour output increased 4.5% over 102,973,000 cwts in April-June 2009.

Average monthly flour production in the third quarter was 35,869,000 cwts, compared with 34,324,000 in the second quarter and 36,058,000 in July-September 2008. The Census Bureau no longer issues monthly output reports.

July-September flour output exclusive of durum semolina production (flour-ex-semolina) totaled 99,704,000 cwts, down 922,000, or 0.9%, from 100,626,000 in the third quarter of 2008, which was the largest since the record in October-December 2000 of 101,929,000 cwts. July-September 2000 output was 100,909,000 cwts. It was 100,599,000 in the third quarter of 2007. These four are the only quarters to date to top the 100-million-mark. Flour ex-semolina output in July-September also was up 4,720,000 cwts, or 5%, from the second quarter of 2009 when it was 94,984,000.

Daily average second highest

Average flour production per working day in July-September, based on the six-day week and calculated by Milling & Baking News, was 1,397,000 cwts, against 1,337,000 in April-June and 1,405,000 in July-September 2008. This is based on 77 days in the third quarter, unchanged from the second quarter and a year ago.

The record in daily average output was set in October-December 2000, at 1,443,000 cwts, followed by July-September 2007 at 1,434,000 and July-September 2000 at 1,413,000.

The 24-hour capacity of U.S. mills in July-September 2009 was placed by the Census Bureau at 1,534,000 cwts. This was up 1,000 cwts from April-June but down 9,000 from a year ago. It was also down 1,000 from the third quarter of 2007 but up 33,000 cwts from the third quarter of 2006, when the total was 1,501,000. Daily capacity of U.S. mills was down 70,000 cwts from the peak of 1,604,000 in April-June 2001.

Quarterly operations at 91.1%

Based on the production and capacity estimates, U.S. flour mills in July-September ran at an average of 91.1% of six-day capacity, up from 87.2% in the second quarter and 91% in the third quarter of 2008. This was the highest since July-September 2007 when average run was 93.4% which, in turn, was the peak since October-December 2000, when the rate was 94.3%. The third quarter’s operating average was up sharply from 78.7% in April-June 2001, which was the lowest in 25 years.

Wheat grind in July-September amounted to 233,521,000 bus, down 0.7% from 235,196,000 in the same quarter of 2008. The peak wheat grind was in October-December 2000, at 247,738,000 bus, followed by July-September 2000, at 244,685,000. Wheat grind in July-September 2009 increased 5.6% over 221,077,000 bus in April-June.

Near record extraction rate

Average flour extraction in July-September, as calculated by Milling & Baking News, was a near record 76.8%, down from the record 77.6% in April-June but slightly above 76.7% in July-September 2008. It was up significantly from 73.2% in April-June 2001, which was the lowest extraction average in more than 25 years.

Millfeed production in July-September totaled 1,680,674 tons, down 4.3% from 1,755,773 in the same quarter of 2008. The record millfeed output for a quarter was in October-December 2000, at 1,947,407 tons, followed by July-September 2000 at 1,902,206. These were the only quarters to date where millfeed production exceeded 1.9 million tons. Millfeed production in the third quarter was up 5% from 1,755,773 tons in April-June.

January-September down 0.5%

Flour production in the first nine months of 2009 totaled 311,273,000 cwts, down 568,000, or 0.3%, from the record 312,065,000 in January-September 2008. It also was down 0.2% from 311,773,000 in January-September 2007 but was up 3.4% over the 300,931,000 in the first nine months of 2006. The current nine-month total was down 0.1% from January-September 2000 at 311,597,000, which for seven years was the peak. Record 12-month production also took place in 2000. The current nine-month total was up 2.5% over 303,755,000 in January-September 1999. Production through September has topped 300 million cwts in only these six years.

Flour-ex-semolina in the nine months totaled 287,189,000 cwts, down 0.6% from a record 289,021,000 in the same period of 2008. It was a shade above 287,171,000 in the same period of 2007 but 0.1% under 287,592,000 in 2000. These were the four largest years for this category.
Average monthly flour production in the first nine months of 2009 was 34,586,000 cwts, compared with 34,674,000 in January-September 2008.

Average flour output per working day in the first nine months of 2009 was 1,353,000 cwts, up from 1,351,000 in the same three quarters of 2008 but down from 1,356,000 in the same three quarters of 2007. It also was up from 1,297,000 in the same three quarters of 2006. Six-day grind in the first three quarters of 2008 comprised 230 days, down from 231 last year.

Average rate of grind in the first nine months of 2009 was 88.3% of six-day capacity, against 87.4% in the first nine months of 2008.

Wheat grind in the first nine months of 2009 aggregated 672,096,000 bus, down 1.6% from 682,680,000 in January-September 2008. Flour extraction rate for the first nine months of 2009 was a record 77.2%, against 76.2% in the first nine months of 2008.

Millfeed production in the first three quarters of 2009 totaled 4,861,549 tons, down 5.1% from 5,122,247 in the first nine months of 2008.

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