The latest National Statistics on UK milled wheat and flour production, from Defra, revealed an increase of 2.9% in the total wheat milled in the UK, for the crop-year to date (starting July 2008), compared to figures for the 2007/08 crop year.

Total flour production was also up 3.9% for the 30 weeks to 24 January 2009, compared to the 2007/08 data.

Biscuit-making flour has seen the largest rise in production, at 13%, while white and brown bread flour have both declined, and wholemeal bread flour has increased by 0.3%.

The increase in total flour production can be mostly attributed to the start-up of a new starch plant in Manchester, explained Alex Waugh, director at nabim. "I understand that bread production is holding, so the year-to-date decline in white and brown bread flour is likely to be due to a decrease in the production of other products that use bread flour, rather than bread itself," he added.

The figures also show a decrease in the amount of UK and imported wheat milled in the UK as well as flour produced in the UK in January 2009, compared to January 2008. However Waugh said month-by-month comparisons are not always an accurate represen-tation of the situation, as they can vary for several reasons - for example stock levels.

The next report will be published on 9 April.