Caribbean flour milling

by Teresa Acklin
Share This:

   World Grain last presented information on Caribbean flour milling in 1992. In the past four years, a number of mills have modernized facilities and/or increased capacity to become more efficient and competitive. A single mill often provides flour for an entire island, and some also export flour to neighboring islands. Indeed, the opening of the flour market to competition from within the Organization of East Caribbean States encouraged some millers to achieve greater efficiencies.

   Caribbean nations produce virtually no wheat, relying instead on imports from the U.S., Canada and Europe. Although several flour mills are owned in whole or in part by governments, the private sector operates the majority.

   Note: Population, wheat import and flour production figures are for 1995 unless otherwise indicated.


   Population: 10,939,635

   Wheat flour mills: The Ministerio de la Industria Alimenticia operates eight mill complexes with a total of 15 milling sections.

   Annual wheat imports: 900,000 tonnes

   Of Cuba's 15 milling sections, six reportedly are in good condition, including the two newest that began service in 1992 and 1993. The nine other units, 16 to 40 years old, are in fair or poor condition. Daily wheat grind capacity is 2,185 tonnes, and daily flour production capacity is estimated at 1,460 tonnes, for an estimated aggregate extraction rate of about 67%. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba's main economic benefactor, Cuba has experienced severe financial and foreign exchange problems, depressing flour use and production. Annual wheat imports have dropped from the 1.4 million tonne yearly average of the 1980s, as purchases depend on hard currency supplies.


   Population: 2,574,291

   Wheat flour mills: Jamaica Flour Mills Ltd.

   Total daily capacity: 735 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 201,780 tonnes

   Annual flour production: 147,666 tonnes

   Jamaica Flour Mills Ltd. is the sole supplier of domestic needs. The mill, which is ISO 9002 certified, produces flour for domestic cookie, cracker and pastry use as well as breadmaking. A Bemis palletizer and Fawema packaging line for 1-kg bags with bundler and shrink tunnel recently were installed, and packaging is computerized. The mill also plans to improve its bulk loading capabilities with a new system.


   Population: 6,539,983

   Wheat flour mills: La Minoterie d'Haiti

   Total daily capacity: 850 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 200,000 tonnes

   The mill currently is not operating, with domestic flour needs covered by either food aid or imports when hard currency supplies permit.

Dominican Republic

   Population: 7,511,263

   Wheat flour mills: Molinos Dominicanos, Molinos del Norte (owned and operated by Molinos Dominicanos), Molino Valle del Cibao and Molinas del Caribe

   Total daily capacity: 1,390 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 250,000 tonnes

   The two Molinos Dominicanos mills are government owned and were the country's only facilities until 1994. Although total capacity, at 950 tonnes, was adequate to supply domestic needs, the mills often lacked money to buy wheat, bakers were required to pay in advance, and orders sometimes were up to three months late. As a result, the country's first private mill, Molinos del Caribe, commenced operations in August 1994 with a daily capacity of 80 tonnes; capacity since was expanded to the current 230 tonnes. Molinos Valle del Cibao is the second private mill, with a capacity of 210 tonnes. Both were supplied by Golfetto, Padova, Italy. Molinos del Caribe operates cookie and pasta factories, and Molino Valle del Cibao operates a pasta factory in addition to selling bread flour.

French Antilles (Martinique & Guadaloupe)

   Population: 402,815

   Wheat flour mills: Grand Moulins des Antilles (a subsidiary of Continental Grain Co.)

   Total daily capacity: 300 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 67,000 tonnes

   Annual flour production: 50,000 tonnes

Puerto Rico

   Population: 3,812,569

   Wheat flour mills: Harinas of Puerto Rico

   Total daily capacity: 163 tonnes

   In late May, U.S. agribusiness giant ConAgra, Inc., announced the closing of its mill in San Juan as part of a general corporate restructuring. That mill, Molinos de Puerto Rico, had a capacity of 318 tonnes.

Netherlands Antilles

   Population: 203,505

   Wheat flour mills: Continental Milling Co. (a subsidiary of Continental Grain Co.)

   Total daily capacity: 80 tonnes

St.Vincent and the Grenadines

   Population: 117,344

   Wheat flour mills: East Caribbean Flour Mills

   Total daily capacity: 100 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 34,000 tonnes

   Annual flour production: 25,389 tonnes

   The East Caribbean Flour Mills is the only mill located on St. Vincent. The mill installed a fully automated packaging system for its 1- and 2-kg bags, and plans are being developed to improve warehousing, packaging of 45-kg bags and flour blending systems. Bakers flour, all purpose and whole wheat flour are produced for industrial, home, small bakery and retail use. Flour also is exported to the Windward and Leeward islands. The government holds a 20% share in the mill and administers price controls on 45-kg bags.


   Population: 94,000 (1994)

   Wheat flour mills: Caribbean Agro Industries (a subsidiary of Continental Grain Co.)

   Total daily capacity: 60 tonnes

   This mill has been modernized with a new wheat debranning system from the Satake Corp., Tokyo, which became operational in 1994. The change increased capacity to its current level from 45 tonnes and reduced protein losses. About 50% of annual production is exported.


   Population: 256,395

   Wheat flour mills: Barbados Mills Ltd.

   Total daily capacity: 81 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 20,000 tonnes

Trinidad and Tobago

   Population: 1,271,159

   Wheat flour mills: National Flour Mills

   Total daily capacity: 425 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 138,934 tonnes

   Annual flour production: 93,520

   National Flour Mills Ltd. is the sole supplier of Trinidad and Tobago's domestic flour needs, with the government owning an 80% share. The mill's main export customers are Dominica, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Suriname. Wholesale and industrial markets account for about two-thirds of domestic use. Annual per capita flour consumption is 77 kg, although 1995 consumer purchases declined 9%, possibly because of higher prices. The company operates two Henry Simon mill sections built in 1966 and 1972. Modernization projects include adding six Buhler filter heads to improve pneumatic conveying and aspiration, four Buhler purifers to improve product distribution and flour quality and two Sangati water addition and moisture control systems to improve wheat tempering. Another project will reduce vessel turnaround time through a Buhler automated grain conveying system and a new Neuero shipunloader.


   Population: 723,774

   Wheat flour mills: National Milling Company of Guyana, Ltd.

   Total daily capacity: 160 tonnes

   Annual wheat imports: 50,000 tonnes