UK manufacturers' sales by product: 2018 provisional results

Provisional estimates for UK manufacturers' sales by product (ProdCom) for 2018.

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Release date:
1 July 2019

Next release:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • The value of UK manufacturers’ product sales was £390.1 billion in 2018, a 2.5% increase on the 2017 total of £380.7 billion.

  • The largest value increase in sales came from the manufacture of food products, up £1.9 billion (2.6%) to £71.8 billion in 2018: growth was seen across most industries within this division.

  • Manufacturing of machinery and equipment not elsewhere classified also experienced a large value increase in sales between 2017 and 2018, up £1.8 billion (6.8%) to £27.9 billion.

  • Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers experienced its first decline in sales since 2009: sales declined by £0.8 billion, a drop of 1.3%.

  • The largest value decrease in sales at the product was diesel vehicles more than 1,500 cubic centimetres (cc) to equal to or less than 2,500 (cc), which decreased by £3.3 billion (34.0%) to £6.4 billion in 2018.

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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.

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, coverages, 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 (PDF, 1.65MB). Standard errors are available for most products, to inform users of the precision of the estimates. The 2018 provisional estimates are based on a response rate of 77%. Further quality and methodology information is provided in Section 7.

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.

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 4.

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) to allow for estimates at this level of aggregation to be made available.

What’s changed in this release?

Product codes are updated most years 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.

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3. What is the overall picture for 2018?

Manufacturers’ sales have increased by £9.4 billion to a total of £390.1 billion in 2018, up 2.5% from the 2017 revised estimates of £380.7 billion (Figure 1). The level in 2016 was £365.7 billion.

Manufacturers’ product sales have showed a year-on-year increase for the period of 2008 to 2018, with the exception of 2015 when there was a decline of £4.4 billion.

In 2018, sales have shown an increase across almost all divisions within the manufacturing sector. This growth has been driven by the manufacture of food products as well as machinery and equipment (not elsewhere classified), and the repair and installation of machinery and equipment (Table 1).

The manufacture of food products remains the largest division within the UK manufacturing sector, contributing £71.8 billion (18.4%) of total UK manufacture in 2018; a £1.9 billion increase (2.6%) on 2017.

The growth in sales is consistent with the increase in turnover published as part of the Office for National Statistics Monthly Business Survey (MBS).

The majority of the decline in 2018 came from two divisions; the manufacture of other transport equipment saw sales fall by £1.8 billion (6.4%) while a decline in the market for diesel vehicles led to the first drop in sales since 2009 for the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers, with declining sales of £0.8 billion (1.3%) (Figure 2).

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4. Manufacturing of food products contributes to growth in 2018

The largest value increase in sales in 2018 was reported by the manufacture of food products , where sales reached a record high of £71.8 billion (2.6%). Growth was seen in the majority of industries within the division, in particular, the manufacture of prepared feeds for farm animals, which increased by £413 million (9.7%) and the processing and preserving of poultry meat, which increased by £388 million (8.8%).

Growth was seen in manufacture of machinery and equipment (not elsewhere classified) of £1.8 billion (6.8%). Much of this growth can be attributed to sales of machinery for mining, quarrying and construction, which increased by £531 million (15.6%) with anecdotal evidence by respondents indicating that global demand had increased in 2018. In particular, there was a surge in sales of dumper trucks.

The repair and installation of machinery and equipment division saw an increase in sales of £1.6 billion (11.4%) with notable growth in the installation of engines and turbines, from £112 million to £490 million (336.0%). This growth was also seen by the repair and maintenance of engines and turbines, which increased from £520 million to £654 million (25.8%).

The manufacture of fabricated metal products, and chemicals and chemical products both reported growth in sales over £1.0 billion in 2018, at £1.4 billion (5.2%) and £1.3 billion (5.5%) respectively.

While the majority of divisions saw growth in sales between 2017 and 2018, five showed declining sales. The large drop in sales within the manufacture of other transport equipment, a fall of £1.8 billion (6.4%), was attributed to the ending of contracts by manufacturers of air and spacecraft as well as global company restructures within the industry.

Motor vehicles with a diesel engine between 1,500 cubic centimetres (cc) and 2,500cc dropped to become the third-ranked product of 2018, with sales of £6.4 billion, a decrease of £3.3 billion (34.0%). As has been widely reported, falling demand for diesel vehicles has had a large effect on sales within the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers division. However, evidence from respondents indicates that resources are now being moved away from both petrol and diesel toward hybridisation and electrification.

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5. What were the top 10 product sales in the UK in 2018?

Motor vehicles with a petrol engine over 1,500 cubic centimetres (cc) remain the product produced in the UK with the largest sales, at £22.7 billion in 2018. Sales increased since 2017 by £1.4 billion (6.5%). Sales of parts for all types of aircraft for civil use declined in 2018 by £909 million (9.2%), however, they remained the second-ranked product with sales of £9.0 billion.

Elsewhere within the top 10, repair and maintenance of civil aircraft increased by £742 million (17.1%) to £5.1 billion while sales from the manufacture of medicaments for therapeutic or prophylactic uses reached £6.4 billion, an increase of £498 million (8.4%) since 2017 (Figure 3).

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Outside the top 10, there was significant growth within the manufacture of wooden kitchen furniture, increasing by 20.3% to £1.8 billion, as well as an £128 million (11.5%) increase in sales of wooden prefabricated buildings such as sheds, holiday homes and mobile homes.

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7. 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

  • users and users of the data

  • how the output was created

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

The 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.

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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Contact details for this Statistical bulletin

Jon Gough
Telephone: +44 (0)1633 456720