Milling and Hulling Industry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Milling and Hulling Industry


one of the oldest and most important sectors of the food industry; it is involved in the processing of grain. Its main products are flour and groats.

The milling of cereals into flour products has been known since antiquity. Flour-milling techniques have played a major role in the development of productive forces. “The entire history of the development of machinery,” wrote Marx in the first volume of Kapital, “can be traced from the history of the development of flour mills” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Sock, 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 361, note). The first steam-powered mills were built in Great Britain in 1786 and in Russia in 1818.

In 1913, Russia (that is, the land area of the USSR before Sept. 17, 1939) produced 28 million tons of flour. Large mills were located chiefly in the grain-producing regions (the Central Chernozem Zone and the Volga Region; Kiev, Vinnitsa, Rovno, and Zhitomir provinces; and Odessa and Rostov-on-Don), far from the major consumption centers, which necessitated considerable shipping. Flour-milling was poorly developed in Transcaucasia, Middle Asia, and other remote regions of the nation. In 1913, flour exports were 278, 000 tons, or 3.4 percent of exported grain.

During World War I and the Civil War and military intervention of 1918–20, flour output declined sharply. In 1920, mills operating for the market produced only one-third of the 1913 output. During the reconstruction of the national economy (1921–25) and the prewar five-year plans (1929–40), existing mills were modernized and new mills built. In 1940 the USSR produced 29 million tons of flour and 1.7 million tons of groats.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), the milling and hulling industry on territory occupied by fascist troops suffered great losses. After the war the industry was rebuilt. In 1956 the daily output of flour and hulling mills producing for the market exceeded the prewar level.

Because of the increase in the urban population and in the numbers of people in rural areas purchasing commercially baked bread, the demand for flour has increased systematically. However, per capita consumption of grain products has declined. Consumption of bread (restated in terms of flour), flour, groats, cereals, and pasta (in kg) was 200 in 1913, 172 in 1950, 164 in 1960, 149 in 1970, and 145 in 1972.

In 1972 the USSR produced 44 million tons of flour, 77 percent of which was from state grain. In the postwar years there has been an increase in the production of varietal flour: at mills producing for the market, the proportion of varietal flour in the total output increased to 85 percent in 1972, as against 45.8 percent in 1940 and 71.1 percent in 1960. As a result of improvements in the production processes, grain use has also improved. The yield of varietal flour in wheat-milling was 31.7 percent in 1940, 50 percent in 1960, and 60 percent in 1972. In 1972, groat production reached 3.3 million tons, and qualitative shifts took place in the assortment of products. In comparison with 1960, the production of buckwheat groats in 1972 had increased by a factor of 5, of rice by a factor of 17, and of coarse-ground wheat by a factor of 1.4.

Large enterprises play the leading role in the production of flour from state grain. Their average processing capacity is as high as 200 tons of grain per day, and the capacity of individual enterprises is 500–2, 500 tons. The enterprises are marked by a high level of automation of basic production processes. Flour mills are located predominantly in the consumption areas, whereas the groat mills are in the regions where the groat crops are raised and purchased. New flour and groat mills are under construction, and the output of varietal flour, rice, and buckwheat groats is increasing. The most important trend of technical progress in the milling and hulling industry is the introduction of new, improved machinery, advanced production methods, and loose storage of the products at flour and groat mills.

Among the other socialist nations, the most developed milling and hulling industry is found in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, the German Democratic Republic, and Yugoslavia.

In the developed capitalist countries, wheat is the leading food crop. In spite of a tendency toward declining per capita bread consumption, the volume of flour production has increased as a result of the growth of population. In 1971 the USA produced 11.4 million tons of wheat flour, 1.2 million tons of which went for export. Flour milling has also developed in Canada, Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and a number of other countries. The milling and hulling industry of the capitalist countries is characterized by significant underuse of production capacity at the enterprises.


Gavrichenkov, D. N. Ekonomika, organizatsiia i planirovanie mukomol’no-krupianogo proizvodstva. Moscow, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.