UK manufacturers' sales by product: 2017 provisional results

Provisional estimates of UK manufacturers' sales of individual products covered by the ProdCom survey.

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Release date:
3 July 2018

Next release:
To be confirmed

1. Main points

  • The value of UK manufacturers’ product sales was £384.5 billion in 2017, a 5.4% increase on the 2016 total of £364.7 billion.

  • Manufacturing of food products experienced the largest increase in sales between 2016 and 2017, at £4.6 billion (7.0%).

  • Increases in manufacturers’ sales were also reported, including the manufacture of motor vehicles (£2.8 billion or 5.2%), machinery and equipment not elsewhere classified (2.3 billion or 9.7%) and chemicals (£2.2 billion or 10.7%).

  • Pharmaceuticals was the only sector to show reduced sales between 2016 and 2017, decreasing by just under £1.0 billion (7.9%) to £11.5 billion.

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2. Things you need to know about this release

Survey background

The UK manufacturers’ sales by product (ProdCom) presents annual statistics on the value and volume of products manufactured in the UK. The ProdCom statistics concern all manufactured products included in the EU ProdCom list. ProdCom differs from UK retail sales; the latter refers to the sales of goods by retail businesses, or consumer purchases.

The survey covers UK businesses active in the mining, quarrying and manufacturing sectors (Standard Industrial Classification 2007: SIC 2007 Sections B and C, Divisions 8 and 10 to 33) and does not cover recycling or energy products.

Division detail

ProdCom has collected data from Division 8 (other mining and quarrying) since 2015, following the cancellation of the Annual Minerals Raised Inquiry (AMRI). These data are included in this bulletin; further information about the background and quality assurance is provided in Improvements in the estimation of product data for other mining and quarrying, as detailed in Section 7.

For Division 19 (coke and refined petroleum products), only one product (pitch and pitch coke, obtained from coal tar or from other mineral tars) is included. This product is located in one industry (19100: the manufacture of coke oven products) and there have been no businesses specifically classified to this industry in the ProdCom publication since 2015.

For Division 24 (the manufacture of basic metals), estimates for the manufacture of basic iron and steel and of ferro-alloys are not included in the overall UK ProdCom sales figures or in the divisional total, as these relate to an administrative source that is disclosive. Due to disclosure issues, we have combined Divisions 11 and 12 (beverages and tobacco) for the 2017 reference period to allow for estimates at this level of aggregation to be made available.

Methodological features

When comparing value changes over time, it is important to note that all estimates of the value of product sales are presented at current prices, meaning that they have not been adjusted for inflation. In this release, volume estimates are collected directly from businesses and are provided in units relating to that product, for example, tonnes or kilograms.

Links to other manufacturing data sources are available in Section 6. However, due to differences between sources (for example, coverage, methods or sampling) ProdCom estimates may not always match figures given in other manufacturing data sources.

The ProdCom survey methodology is outlined in the Quality and Methodology Information report and in the ProdCom technical report. Standard errors are available for most products, to inform users of the precision of the estimates. The 2017 provisional estimates are based on a response rate of 80.5%. Further quality and methodology information is provided in Section 8.

It is sometimes necessary to suppress figures for certain products to avoid disclosing information about an individual business. The ProdCom technical report describes the methods used to safeguard the information provided in confidence to us. Our commentary must also avoid disclosing information about individual businesses.

ProdCom estimates are designated as National Statistics, which means that the data are produced in compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

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3. UK total manufacturers’ product sales increase in 2017

Manufacturers’ sales have increased by £19.8 billion to a total of £384.5 billion in 2017, up 5.4% from the 2016 final estimates of £364.7 billion. The level in 2015 was £358.1 billion.

Since 2009, manufacturers’ product sales showed a year-on-year increase, except for 2015 when there was a decline of £4.4 billion, before increasing again in both 2016 and 2017. Manufacturing sales have shown an increase across many of the divisions. The only division that showed a decline this year was the manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations, which decreased by £1 billion (7.9%) to £11.5 billion.

Almost all manufacturing divisions have shown rising sales; however, the rise can be mainly attributed to the food and motor vehicle divisions. The growth in sales coincides with the increase in turnover published as part of the ONS Monthly Business Survey (MBS).

The manufacture of food products division remains the largest within the UK manufacturing sector, contributing £70.3 billion (18.3%) of total UK manufacturing in 2017; this is a £4.6 billion increase (7.0%) on 2016. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers remains the division with the second-highest sales, at £57.5 billion, an increase of £2.8 billion (5.2%) on 2016.

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4. Manufacturing of food driving growth in 2017

The largest division within UK manufacturing in 2017 was the production of food, which contributed almost one-fifth of all sales within the manufacturing sector. The food division was worth £70.3 billion, an increase of £4.6 billion since 2016, which represents the largest value growth across all divisions.

Growth within the division was led by operations of dairies and cheesemaking, which increased by £1.2 billion (17.6%). This increase can be attributed to increased sales of semi-skimmed and whole milk, as well as butter. This increase in sales coincides with high exports of dairy products as reported by the UK trade in goods by classification of product by activity quarterly release.

Elsewhere within the food division, sales in the processing and preserving of meat increased by £933 million (14.0%) to £7.6 billion, which can be attributed in part to an increase of £316 million for fresh and chilled beef. Sales from manufacture of bread, fresh pastry goods and cakes returned to the 2015 level of £6.6 billion, up from £6.2 billion in 2016.

Sales from the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers reached £57.5 billion in 2017, an increase of £2.8 billion and more than double the 2009 figure of £27.4 billion. Motor vehicles with a petrol engine over 1500cc remain the product with the highest value sales in the UK, at £20.7 billion and the growth in sales of £2.5 billion over the year account for the majority of the divisional sales growth. Conversely, sales of similar-sized diesel vehicles (over 1500cc) declined 8% to £9.8 billion over the period.

The manufacture of other parts and accessories for motor vehicles also saw increased sales since 2016, with sales of £11.1 billion, up 8.9%. This was attributed to a £272 million (18%) increase in sales of seats for motor vehicles.

At £2.3 billion (9%), the manufacture of machinery and equipment not elsewhere classified has seen a large year-on-year increase. The majority of industries classified within the division have shown growth in 2017. Most notable is the manufacture of engines and turbines (except aircraft, vehicle and cycle engines) where the increase comes with increased demand within the renewable energy sector.

The manufacture of lifting and handling equipment has shown an increase of 16% (£2.7 billion) compared with the 2016 figure of £2.4 billion. This increase is driven by growth in the construction industry, as indicated in the 2017 construction statistics. Conversely, the manufacture of machinery for quarrying, mining and construction, the second-largest industry within the division, has seen a slight decrease, from £3.14 billion to £3.12 billion. This continues the trend seen since 2012.

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5. What were the top 10 product sales in the UK in 2017?

Motor vehicles with a petrol engine over 1500cc remain the product produced in the UK with the largest sales, at £20.7 billion. This product has increased since 2016 by £2.5 billion (13.7%). Parts for all types of aircraft for civil use became the second ranked product in 2017, with sales of £9.9 billion, while motor vehicles with a diesel engine between 1500cc and 2500cc decreased to become only the third ranked product of 2017, with sales of £9.8 billion (a decrease of £0.8 billion).

Manufacture, installation and repair of military vessels, and cakes and pastry products both fell out of the top 10 products produced in the UK in 2017; however, while the former suffered a decline in sales of £745 million, the latter saw an increase in sales of £75 million.

Fresh or chilled cuts of beef or veal and beer have both entered the top 10 products produced in the UK in 2017, with a rise in sales of £316 million and £526 million respectively. Beer was last in the top 10 products in 2015 and evidence highlights stronger beer and can sales to supermarkets in 2017.

Sales of both whisky and gin have also increased; whisky sales have increased by £305 million to £3.4 billion, while sales of gin (or Geneva) have risen by £113 million to £461 million, a 32.5% increase on 2016. Sales of gin are more than three times higher than the £126 million sales seen in 2009. This comes at a time when the Wine and Spirit Trade Association published an article highlighting that the number of gin distilleries in the UK had more than doubled in five years.

Filled chocolate bars and blocks, and chocolate confectionery both saw declining sales of 29% and 13% respectively. Anecdotal evidence from respondents suggests that this is due to declining orders. However, a similar pattern was not seen for sales of sweet biscuits, both plain or those with chocolate, as these have seen a combined rise of £277 million (21.7%).

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7. What’s changed in this release?

Product codes are updated every year to ensure that ProdCom product codes are aligned with the EU classification of products by industry (CPA) and in response to feedback from member states and users.

There are 381 product code changes for 2017, compared with 155 for 2016. A full list of all question changes is included within the ProdCom quality indicators pack.

Changes to data collection for Division 8 (other mining and quarrying)

Prior to 2015, the Annual Minerals Raised Inquiry (AMRI) collected volume data on non-energy mineral production, which fed into the estimates produced for the other mining and quarrying sector (Division 8). The AMRI survey ceased after the 2014 survey period so an alternative approach was required to collect and capture data for this. The change in source data for this division resulted in a level shift in the estimates between 2014 and 2015. To understand this and to construct a consistent time series, the estimates for this division have been suppressed within the ProdCom publication up to this point. Totals published in the linked article may vary slightly compared to the 2017 reference tables because the article only relates to SICs collected as part of the AMRI survey. The reference tables are a comprehensive list of all products within the other mining and quarrying division.

Analysis has been conducted using the new approach for this division with estimates now included as part of this release. Estimates published for other mining and quarrying are now a combination of AMRI data from 2008 to 2014, and the new source from 2015 onwards. Details of the full analysis and impact has been undertaken; you can find more information in Improvements in the estimation of product data for other mining and quarrying.

We aim to continually improve our bulletin and its contents, to provide a more concise summary of the main statistics. We welcome feedback via email at or by telephone on +44 (0) 1633 456720.

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8. Quality and Methodology

ProdCom estimates are based on a sample of businesses surveyed annually. Data are collected via a paper questionnaire from a sample of approximately 21,500 businesses, covering 240 subsectors of the mining, quarrying and manufacturing industry sectors and approximately 3,800 products.

Detailed quality and methodology information is available from the following sources:

  • ProdCom quality indicators pack

  • ProdCom technical report

  • ProdCom Quality and Methodology Information report

All of these publications can be obtained from the Related downloads section of the ProdCom background information page.

The ProdCom Quality and Methodology Information report contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data and how it compares with related data

  • uses and users of the data

  • how the output was created

  • the quality of the output including the accuracy of the data

This report has been recently updated.

The ProdCom technical report describes the methodology and processes used to produce ProdCom estimates. This includes information on sampling procedures, data collection and converting respondent data into published estimates. It complements the ProdCom user guide, which explains the variables and provides guidance on correct data usage, including how to open the data tables. The Quality and Methodology Information includes information on the users and uses of the data, its strengths and limitations, how the output is created and the output quality, including data accuracy.

A report on ProdCom EU methodology is available from Eurostat. Eurostat also provides an annual ProdCom quality report, which contains comprehensive quality information.

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