Data from the Office of National Statistics reveals there were 170 mills in the UK in 2006, operated by 105 companies.

The statistics point to a 6% year- on-year decrease in the number of mills, down from 180 in 2005.

The number of companies operating these mills also dropped from 110 in 2005.

Of the companies registered, 45 had a £5m plus turnover in 2006, down from 50 in 2005.

The figures, gathered by the Office for National Statistics on March 17, 2006, give details of turnover and location of all companies which classify themselves as manufacturers of grain mill products.

National Association of British and Irish Millers’ director general Alex Waugh commented: "These figures include other grain mills such as oats, rice, maize and even animal feed. We think there are 60 flour mills in the UK."

The flour sector saw a disproportionate number of the 10 closures he said, as the sector went through a burst of consolidation.

During the course of 2006, Rank Hovis closed four mills and ADM Milling closed a site in Tewkesbury. On 13 April (pg 4) British Baker revealed a 5% annual decline in the number of bakery retail businesses while the number of bakery manufacturing companies was down 0.8%.

The figures reveal there were 2,880 bakery retail businesses in the UK in 2006, operating a total of 6,405 units.

There was also a total of 1,740 bakery manufacturers in the UK, down 15 on the previous year.

The coded data, available from the ONS, also show the number of takeaway outlets in 2006 totalling 61,935, a figure that includes sandwich bars, coffee shops, pizza parlours, fish and chip shops, kebab houses and burger joints.