WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — A downward trend in U.S. flour production that began in 2018 continued unabated in the second quarter this year, according to data issued Aug. 1 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Output in the second quarter of 2019 totaled 103.929 million cwts, down 1.375 million, or 1.3%, from 105.304 million a year ago. Production was up 0.3% from 103.6 million cwts in the first quarter of 2019.

NASS data are now available for 20 consecutive quarters, or five full years, since July-September 2014, when NASS took over from the North American Millers’ Association (NAMA).

January-June flour output aggregated 207.529 million cwts, a decrease of 1.6% from a record 210.916 million in the first half of 2018.

The rolling four-quarter trend for flour production remained weak. The all-time high was 428.142 million cwts set in the 12 months ended in June 2018, followed by 427.987 million cwts in the year ended September 2018 and 426.871 million cwts for all of 2018, a full calendar year record. The rolling 12-month total slipped to 424.906 million cwts in the period ended March 2019 and to 424.859 million in the July 2018-June 2019 period. U.S. 24-hour capacity in April-June was 1,646,760 cwts, down from 1,647,831 in the first quarter but up from 1,642,731 a year back.

Flour mill operating rate in April-June was at a recent low at 82%, down from 82.7% in the first quarter and 83.3% in April-June 2018.

Wheat grind in the second quarter at 225.056 million bushels was up 0.8% from 223.350 million in the first but down 1% from 226.626 million a year ago.

Millfeed output in April-June totaled 1,618,622 tons, up 0.1% from 1,647,831 tons in the first quarter and up 1.5% from 1,594,864 a year ago.

Semolina production in April-June totaled 7.622 million cwts, down 3.6% from 7.905 million in the first quarter and up 0.1% from 7.618 million a year ago.                                                                                                      

Rye flour production in the second quarter totaled 204,000 cwts against 210,000 in the first quarter and 225,000 a year earlier.