Total UK manufacturing sales top £358bn

Posted on 13 Apr 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The latest figures show the total value by sales of UK manufactured goods hit £358bn at the end of 2015, up 6% between 2011 and 2015 (the equivalent of £17bn).

UK Manufacturing - Food Hams Bottle Glass Wine Beer - image courtesy of Pixabay.
The nation’s food and drink sector increased 31% between 2011 and 2015 to reach £68bn in total.

The significant growth achieved by UK manufacturing was driven in large part by the success of the nation’s food and drink sector, which increased 31% over the five-year period to reach £68bn in total.

The figures have come to light thanks to analysis of the latest official PRODCOM data by the ONS by Santander Corporate & Commercial.

According to the ONS, the largest individual food manufacturing industry in the UK is the production of dairies and cheese – this has become the fifth-largest manufacturing sector, valued at £8 bn in terms of sales.

The processing and preserving of meat (£7 bn) and the manufacture of bread, pastries and cakes (£7bn) both made it into the UK’s 10 largest manufacturing industries.

Top 10 food and drink manufacturing industries by sales, 2015

Food and drink sector 2015

Value (£m)

Operation of dairies and cheese making 7,596
Processing and preserving of meat 6,687
Manufacture of bread; manufacture of fresh pastry goods and cakes 6,673
Production of meat and poultry meat products 5,510
Manufacture of soft drinks; production of mineral waters and other bottled waters 4,596
Manufacture of rusks and biscuits; manufacture of preserved pastry goods and cakes 4,067
Processing and preserving of poultry meat 3,854
Manufacture of other food products 3,828
Manufacture of prepared feeds for farm animals 3,764
Manufacture of grain mill products 3,663
Source: Analysis of ONS PRODCOM data by Santander

Overall, the manufacture of motor vehicles remains the largest single UK manufacturing sector by sales as categorised by the ONS, worth £37bn as at the end of 2015, a 2% increase on 2014 and an eight-year high for the sector.

Other major sectors include the manufacture of air and spacecraft machinery (worth £21bn) and the manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations (£11bn).

Top 10 fastest-growing manufacturing sectors by sales, 2011-2015

Sector 2011

Value (£m)


Value (£m)

% growth
Games and toys 162 275 70%
Outerwear 474 719 52%
Ships and floating structures 2,903 4,325 49%
Wooden containers 401 581 45%
Other wearing apparel and accessories 198 285 44%
Luggage, handbags, saddlery and harness 119 169 42%
Concrete products for construction purposes 1,474 2,063 40%
Bicycles and invalid carriages 113 157 39%
Taps and valves 1,303 1,801 38%
Repair and maintenance of ships and boats 331 443 34%
Source: Analysis of ONS PRODCOM data by Santander

The improving economy and increased levels of disposable income has resulted in the manufacture of games and toys becoming the fastest-growing manufacturing sector in the UK over the past five years, expanding by 70% from 2011 to 2015 and now worth £275m to the UK economy.

In addition, the increased confidence in consumer spending is evidenced by the strong growth of other manufacturing industries. Outerwear is the second-fastest growing industry in the past five years, now worth £719m to the UK economy; the manufacture of luggage and handbags is another sector which has seen strong growth, up 42% in the past five years.

Business development director for manufacturing at Santander Corporate & Commercial, Paul Brooks explained: “The success of the UK manufacturing industry is central to the success of the UK economy. UK production has remained strong in recent years, particularly in sectors such as food and drink, and car manufacturing, and potential remains for the UK manufacturing to become even more successful.

“Growth has been helped in part by the global value of ‘Brand Britain’; British food and drink, for instance, is synonymous with high quality and holds a high appeal to people across the globe.