WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Flour output by U.S. mills in 2010 aggregated 416,200,000 cwts, an increase of 0.4% over 414,658,000 in 2009. It was the fourth largest total on record, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of the Census. The total still was down 5,072,000 cwts, or 1.2%, from the record 421,270,000 in 2000.

The modest flour production increase for 2010 represents a “rally” from the situation earlier the year. As recently as the third quarter, year-to-date flour production figures provided by the Census Bureau were down 0.1% from the first nine months of 2009.

Production in the past four years has fluctuated within a fairly narrow range between 418,836,000 in 2008 and 414,658,000 in 2009. The year-to-year gain in 2010 was largely fueled by a sizable increase in semolina output and a moderate gain in flour-ex-semolina. The third largest in recent years (since 2000), semolina output in 2010 totaled 32,728,000 cwts, up 3.7% from 31,568,000 in 2009. Flour-ex-semolina came to 383,472,000, up 0.1% from 383,090,000 in 2009. It also was the fourth largest for this category.

Yearend milling daily capacity set a record of 1,545,000 cwts, up 11,000 from a year back. Rate of mill grind in 2010 averaged 88% of six-day capacity, practically the same as 88.1% a year earlier. Extraction was a near record 77.1%, against 77.2% a year back. Regional output changes featured an appreciable reduction in the South, more than offset by sizable gains in the spring wheat states and modest increases elsewhere.