Dynamics of global flour milling in annual data

by Morton Sosland
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Data just issued by the International Grains Council on production of flour once again underscore the steady, but slightly rising trend in most nations. Notable exceptions, with output changes of 5% and more, reveal the dynamics of the industry, especially in emerging areas like the Former Soviet Union, Asia and Africa. In both North America and in Europe, output gains were often less than 1%, making the 4% increase in Spain and 3% in Poland stand out as nations enjoying especially strong demand for flour-based foods.

Three other nations are notable for registering sharp output increases in 2005. It is no surprise that Kazakhstan, a nation that has suddenly emerged as a powerful export competitor, should post the largest output gain in 2005, with production rising 31%. The Ukraine registered an increase of 19%, and the only country that came even close to matching these upturns was Egypt, where 2005 output soared 13% over the prior year. Egypt now ranks among leaders in global production, a huge change from several decades ago when it imported almost all of its flour needs.

The I.G.C. no longer estimates annual flour output in China, the world’s largest miller. It also halted estimates for Nigeria, Indonesia and Iran. As a result, the global picture provided by these statistics lacks its previous significance as a measure of the status of global flour milling. Yet, even after taking account of the missing numbers, flour milling’s importance as a global food supplier continues on its upward path.

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