With the exception of Russia and the Ukraine, flour production in the first seven years of the 1990s increased significantly in the major producing nations of the world. This is disclosed in new data on flour production presented by the International Grains Council, London, in its 1997-98 issue of World Grain Statistics. The data are the most complete assembled by the I.G.C. in this annual statistical report on wheat and coarse grains.
For the first time in many years, the newest data include estimates of flour production in China, the world's top ranking producer. According to the I.G.C. data, China in 1997 turned out 79,900,000 tonnes of flour, equal to 1,789,760,000 cwts. China's output showed an increase of 13.3% over the production at the start of the decade in 1990.
At the indicated level, China's output was more than four times that of the next-largest producer, the U.S., which in 1997 turned out 18,332,000 tonnes of flour, equal to 410,637,000 cwts. The 1997 total was up 14.1% from 1990, ranking the U.S. among the leading nations in percentage output gain for the first seven years of the decade. Output in the United States fell in 1998 and held barely steady at the latter total in 1999, according to early estimates.
Pakistan ranked third among the nations of the world in flour production in 1997, according to the I.G.C. It turned out 14,900,000 tonnes, or 333,760,000 cwts, a rise of only 1.3% from the start of the 1990s.
Russia, which prior to the fall of Communism at the start of the decade rivaled the United States in annual output, saw its production drop in 1997 to fourth place among the nations. The 1997 output in Russia, according to the I.G.C., was 9,600,000 tonnes, or 215,040,000 cwts. That was down 39.1% from the 1990 production of 15,770,000 tonnes, which was only 2% less than U.S. production in that year. In 1997, Russian production of flour had shrunk to a little more than half of American output.
Similar to Russia, and affected by the same forces of great economic chaos and change, the Ukraine's flour output in 1997 fell 33.8% from the 1990 total. In the latest year for which data are available, the Ukraine produced 4,625,000 tonnes, or 103,600,000 cwts of flour, contrasted with 6,990,000 tonnes in 1990.
Iran ranked fifth among countries in 1997 production, turning out 9,500,000 tonnes, or 212,800,000 cwts, the I.G.C. said. Iran, a country that has had little or no relations with Western nations for all of this period, posted the sharpest increase of any major country in the 1990s. Its output in 1997 was up 75.1% from the 1990 total of 5,424,000 tonnes, with output on a steadily rising trend through the 1990s.
Brazil, the largest country in South America, gained in rank as a flour producer in the 1990s. Its output in 1997 reached 6,194,000 tonnes, or 138,746,000 cwts, up 16% from 5,339,000 tonnes in 1990.
Ranking seventh in output among nations was France, Europe's largest flour miller, turning out 6,007,000 tonnes, or 134,557,000 cwts. French flour output was up 12.4% from 5,345,000 tonnes in 1990. As recently as 1983, French output was barely 4 million tonnes.
India moved into eighth place in 1997, producing 4,950,000 tonnes of flour in what is called the commercial roller flour milling industry. India grinds huge quantities of wheat to make atta on small local mills that often use stone grinding, and that grind is not counted in the I.G.C. data. India's commercial output increased 4.6% over the 1990 total of 4,732,000 tonnes.
Japan, in ninth place, produced 4,902,000 tonnes, or 109,805,000 cwts, of flour in 1997. The output of Japan's milling industry showed a gain of 13% over the 4,338,000 tonnes produced at the start of the decade in 1990.
Germany, where flour production since 1991 has included the output of the former East Germany, has shown a substantial output increase in the 1990s. Ranking 10th, Germany's output in 1997 was 4,859,000 tonnes, or 108,842,000 cwts. This was up 29.3% from the 1991 total of 3,757,000 tonnes when the former German Democratic Republic first was combined with the Federal Republic. In 1990, West Germany alone turned out 2,617,000 tonnes.
Egypt, where commercial flour milling has been rapidly expanding, ranks as the 12th country in the world to turn out more than 100 million cwts of flour in a year. Its output in 1997 aggregated 4,656,000 tonnes, or 104,294,000 cwts, up 31.8% from 3,532,000 tonnes in 1990.
China's leadership in flour milling not only is four times larger than the next-largest producer, but its growth in output is unrivaled by most of the major producers. At 79,900,000 tonnes in 1997, China's flour output was up 60% from 1980, when it turned out 50 million tonnes. In the mid-1970s, China's flour production was hardly 25 million tonnes, and prior to 1971 it was less than 20 million.
India has posted astounding growth also, with its output of 4,950,000 tonnes in 1997 more than double the 1980 total of 2,409,000.
Soaring output also has been noted in other countries of Asia. Indonesia in 1997 produced 2,890,000 tonnes of flour, contrasted with 1,001,000 in 1980. Even larger gains occurred in Thailand and the Philippines, also in Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan production of 14,900,000 tonnes in 1997, while down from its peak of 16,481,000 in 1992, contrasted with 9,357,000 in 1980.
Japan and South Korea have shown a rather steady trend in production, with Japan's flour output in 1997 up 17% from 1980, and Korea, at 1,751,000 tonnes, up 22%, over 17 years.
Flour production has soared in most of the countries of Africa, especially in the nations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Egypt's output rose 34% from 1980; Morocco, at 1,941,000 tonnes, was up 42%; and Algeria, at 3,770,000 tonnes, showed a gain of 421% over the level of 17 years ago.
Output in South Africa also has risen sharply, totaling 1,950,000 tonnes in 1997, up 38% from 1980.
The main African exception is Nigeria, where successive governments have limited importation of wheat for making flour. That country's output in 1997 was a meager 555,000 tonnes, or less than half of its peak of 1,335,000 in 1982.
Another region of sharp growth in flour production is the Middle East. Iran, as the largest producer in 1997 at 9,500,00 tonnes, posted an increase of 103% over 1980.
Syria's production in 1997 totaled 2,500,000 tonnes, contrasted with only 447,000 tonnes in 1980. Turkey's output reached 1,909,000 tonnes, up a third from 1980. Iraq, faced with tight import controls imposed by the United Nations, milled 1,900,000 tonnes in 1997, against 1,716,000 in 1980. Afghanistan's output also was relatively stable, at 2,300,000 tonnes in 1997, compared with 2,010,000 in 1980, up 14%.
Saudi Arabia's flour production has held steady at 1.6 million to 1.7 million tonnes in recent years. Yemen, a major flour importer, has been producing locally about 1 million tonnes a year. Israel in 1997 turned out 600,000 tonnes of flour, up 124% from the decade's start in 1990.
The U.K. in 1997 turned out 4,254,000 tonnes, up 10% from the beginning of the 1990s. Output in Spain was 2,550,000 tonnes, only 150,000 more than was milled in 1990.
In the former satellites of the Soviet Union, production has shown an irregular pattern. Output in Romania in 1997 totaled 2,996,000 tonnes, a gain of 52% over output in 1990, the last year of the totalitarian regime. Poland's output in 1997 reached 1,618,000 tonnes, down 10% from the 1990 output of 1,807,000 and far below the peak of 2,935,000 tonnes in 1984. Hungary's production totaled 1,098,000 tonnes, also off 10% from 1,218,000 in 1990.
But these decreases were overshadowed by the shortfall in Russian production. At 9,600,000 tonnes, Russia's flour output was much less than half of the peak of 23,292,000 tonnes reached in 1983.
In the last year of the former Soviet Union, 1990, that country turned out 32,842,000 tonnes of flour, contrasted with the peak of 43 million in the mid-1980s.
Combining production in the United States, Canada and Mexico into a single North American total results in 1997 production of 22,908,000 tonnes, or 513 million hundredweights. That North American total was up 13% from 20,222,000 tonnes as the aggregate output in 1990 and shows a rise of 38% over 16,633,000 in 1980.
Mexico in 1997 turned out 2,592,000 tonnes of flour, up only 3% from 1990, while Canada's flour production in 1997 was 1,984,000 tonnes, up 21% from the output at the start of the decade.
The I.G.C. estimates Cuba's flour production in 1996, the last year for which data are available, at 350,000 tonnes, or 7,840,000 cwts, off from 400,000 in 1990.
While Brazil dominates South American flour milling, Argentina ranked second, at 3,641,000 tonnes in 1997, against 3,102,000 in 1990, a gain of 17%. Chile produced 1,133,000 tonnes, about the same as in 1990, while Venezuela's output reached 1,116,000 tonnes, up 57% from the start of the decade.
Australia in 1997 milled 1,913,000 tonnes of flour, an increase of 56% over the 1990 output of 1,227,000 tonnes and 83% more than the 1980 production of 1,045,000 tonnes.