WASHINGTON, DC, US — Per capita consumption of flour fell sharply in 2023, slumping to the lowest level in 37 years, according to data issued April 15 by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

At 128.8 pounds, per capita consumption last year was down 3.8 lbs, or 3%, from 132.7 pounds in 2022. The figure was down almost a half pound from 129.2 pounds in 2021, the year following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, until now, the lowest figure in the 21st century. It was the smallest per capita total since 126 pounds in 1986. From the recent peak of 146.8 pounds reached in 1997, per capita flour consumption has now tumbled 18 pounds, or 12%.

Lower flour production was the largest but not the only contributor to the per capita consumption decrease. At 419.757 million cwts, flour production in 2023 was down 10.527 million cwts, or 2.5%, from 430.284 million cwts in 2022.

 Also lower last year were imports of flour, semolina, bulgur and couscous, to 18.741 million cwts, down 912,000 cwts from the year before, a drop of 5%.

Flour exports, meanwhile, fell sharply, to 3.79 million cwts, down 696,000 cwts, or 18%, from 4.486 million cwts in 2022. At 3.79 million cwts, flour exports were down 76% from the high of the 2000s — 16.005 million cwts in 2000.

Population growth was modest in 2023, though up from the previous two years. At 335.135 million, the US population grew by 1.627 million, up 0.5%. That compared with a gain of 0.3% in 2022 and 0.2% in 2021, but 0.8% in 2020.