The Flour Milling Industry
The flour milling industry is a vibrant sector that combines traditional skills with high technology to produce a wide range of flours. It is compact and highly efficient with a total turnover from all sources of more than £1 billion per year. The UK is self-sufficient in flour with a small positive trade balance. Flour is used as the main ingredient in bread, but also in as biscuits, cakes, pies, soups and a range of processed foods.
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.
Like so many industries, in recent years the flour milling industry has continued to consolidate. There are now 30 companies operating 50 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.
The UK flour milling industry remains the largest single 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.