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General description

 - Flour is the powdery substance created when a dry grain is pulverized. This is referred to as the milling process. 
The most common varieties of flour are made from wheat although any grain can be made into 
flour, including rice, oats, corn or barley. 


 - Wheat flour is one of the most important foods in European, North American, Middle Eastern and North African cultures, and is the defining ingredient in most of their styles of breads and pastries. Flour contains high proportion of starches, which are complex carbohydrates also known as polysaccharides. Leavening agents are used with some flours, especially those with significant gluten content, to produce lighter and softer baked products by embedding small gas bubbles.     

A simplified flour mill diagram

Costs and margins of wheat flour production 

 - The approximate cost-price breakdown of flour production is as follows: the cost of grain accounts for approximately 81% of the total cost of flour, followed by electricity cost (6.5%), labour cost (4%), and expendable materials and other costs (8.5%), according to the International Association of Operative Millers.

Annual production cost of a flour mill by type of product

 - Depending on the output ratios, wheat flour may contribute 93% to the gross margin generated in wheat milling, while wheat bran may contribute 7%. These contribution ratios change depending on flour and feed demand and prices.

Global market

 - The size of the world wheat flour market is around 21.1 million tons and USD 9.3 billion according to the year 2011 data. Although the wheat flour trade volume has fluctuated in the last five years, it has grown by an average rate of 4.2% on the basis of quantity and 30.5% on the basis of value in the said period.

World wheat flour imports 


 - In the year 2010, the downward trend continued with the impact of the restriction of wheat exports by the Russian Federation and Ukraine which are major wheat producers, with wheat flour imports declining by 9.4% to USD 3.6 billion. The year 2011, on the other hand, saw an increase of 28.8%, compensating for the drop experienced in the years 2009 and 2010, and the wheat flour imports reached USD 4.6 billion which was close to the wheat flour imports value in 2008.In the world wheat flour imports, Iraq ranks first, followed by Brazil, Indonesia, Afghanistan and Angola. Said five countries accounted for approximately one-third of the world wheat imports in 2011.

Breakdown of wheat flour importer countries

- Among the countries occupying the first five positions in the world wheat flour imports, the highest increase (49.7%) was experienced in Angola's imports, and Iraq and Brazil saw their wheat flour imports rise by 27.3% and 38.3%, respectively.

World Wheat Flour Imports (USD Thousand)

 - The trend of the world wheat flour exports paralelled the imports trend between the years 2007-2011, with its value increasing by 56.5% in 2007, and by 51% in 2008 to USD 5.3 billion, the highest value in the world wheat exports. In terms of quantity, the exports rose by 17% in 2007, paralleling partially the rise in terms of value, but by a mere 1% in 2008. 

World wheat flour Exports

 - In 2011 the setback experienced in the wheat flour exports on both value and quantity basis was compensated with wheat flour exports increasing by 31.3% to around USD 4.7 billion (quantity increased by 11.9% to 10.7 billion tons).

Breakdown of wheat flour exporter countries

 - In the world wheat flour exports in the year 2011, the other top-ranking countries following Turkey were Argentina (8.1%), Pakistan (7.6%), France (6.4%), and Germany (5.9%). Of the world wheat flour exports in the said year, almost half (47%) was realized by the top five countries, 83.3% by the top 20 countries.

World Wheat Flour Exports (USD Thousand)

 - Those countries which are other than the top 20 countries in the total wheat flour exports and which had 17.7% share in the year 2011 (211 countries) experienced a serious drop (20.2%) in total exports. Although the exports increased in the last 10 years, a constant downward trend has been observed after the year 2007.


 - In addition to good technical knowledge and equipment, price-risk management instruments and wellestablished relations with wheat suppliers and wheat flour buyers, clear and predictable policy mechanisms are critically important for the success of wheat flour businesses.
 - In the light of these figures, and given that the product is a basic foodstuff, the wheat flour sector is considered as a market growing parallel to the changes/developments in the consumption of the wheat flour-based food products and in the trend of nutritional habits worldwide.