A modern industry
The flour milling industry is a vibrant sector that combines traditional skills with modern technology to produce a wide range of flours.
Flour milling in the UK today is an automated and efficient industry, having evolved a long-way from the days of water-driven and wind-driven mills. Modern mills function as continuous-flow operations throughout the year.
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The flour milling industry
Feeding and nourishing the nation
About a third of all grocery items on supermarket shelves contain wheat flour – from bread, biscuits and cakes to soups, sausages and sauces. On top of this Kantar states that 99.8% or households in the UK purchase bread. In the world of food, flour has a central role. Furthermore wheat flour is a significant contributor of essential vitamins and minerals. A third of the fibre and calcium we consume derives from flour; along with 30% of our iron consumption.
[i] 99.8% of UK households purchase bread (Kantar worldpanel); 30% grocery products in big four supermarkets contains flour, (Data by Ascential)
[ii] National Diet and Nutrition Survey
Supporting the UK economy
The UK flour milling industry remains the largest user of domestic wheat. The industry has worked hard to promote the benefits of increased availability of UK bread making wheats. The result is that usage of homegrown wheat is now double the level of forty years ago, and in a normal year makes up 80 - 85% of usage. To find our more about the wheat varieties used by UK millers, click here.
It is compact and highly efficient with a total turnover from all sources of approximately £1.25 billion per year. The UK is self-sufficient in flour with a small positive trade balance.
To find out more about the milling process itself, click here.
Like so many industries, in recent years the flour milling industry has continued to consolidate. There are now 32 companies operating 51 mills. The four largest companies account for approximately 65% of UK flour production. Many of the smaller millers have developed niches ranging from pre-packed flours to those for specific uses such as flours for speciality breads.