What does the UK Produce?

In the post-war period, there has been a relative decline in the size of UK manufacturing. UK manufacturing used to account for over 50% of the size of the economy. Now, manufacturing accounts for around 12-15%. However, although there has been a degree of ‘de-industrialisation’ the UK still produces more in absolute terms than previously. We manufacturer a surprisingly wide range of goods from Nuclear reactors, military equipment, pharmaceutical products to electronics.

Top Products by Category


Car Industry

  • Many British car firms are no longer owned by British firms. But, in 2011, 1,343,810 cars were produced in the UK BBC.
  • Car production includes plants such as BMW Mini (Oxford), Nissan  (Nissan Sunderland’s car factory produced 480,00 cars in 2011 – BBC)  Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lotus, Morgan, Vauxhall
  • Note: many UK car firms may be owned by foreign companies.

Service Sector

As manufacturing has relatively declined, the service sector has become more prominent. The service sector plays a key role in export earnings. Sources of service sector exports include:

  • Financial services – insurance, banking with London the epicentre.
  • UK TV shows – e.g. Doctor Who, Top Gear (sold to 170 countries) X Factor, Sherlock Holmes. Export revenues of £1.4bn in 2011 (BBC)
  • Video games like Grand Theft Auto
  • Education
  • Running services such as air traffic control, train systems.

UK economy by sector share

manufacturing share of gdp

The manufacturing sector has declined from 35% of GDP in 1970 to 12% in 2008.

Other important products the UK produces

  • Gas turbines
  • Packaged medicaments
  • Computers
  • Hard liquor (e.g. Scottish Whisky)
  • Aircraft parts

Who Does UK Trade With?

The main source of UK’s trade is with the US and the European Union. China and India are currently a low percentage of overall trade, but given the growth in their economy, this offers the chance for expansion in the future.

Top 10 UK Exports

top UK Exporters
Top 10 destination of UK exports

The bulk of UK exports are destined for the EU (around 60%)

Top 10 UK imports

uk import partners
Top 10 Source of UK Imports


Source: UK Trade Info

UK industrial production in past 30 years


Industrial and manufacturing output fell significantly in the 2008-12 recession.

See more graphs at UK industrial and manufacturing output

What did the UK produce in the past?

The industrial revolution began in the UK. In the nineteenth century, the UK was a world leader in producing key materials associated with the industrial revolution.

  • Coal
  • Steel
  • Textiles
  • Steam engines
  • Ships

This mining and manufacturing sector has largely declined.

See decline of UK coal industry

17 thoughts on “What does the UK Produce?”

  1. Guessing that some of these will fall away in the future such as mineral oils and fuels, buy hopefully others will make up for this such as automotive where there has been massive investment.

  2. I hear so much about the industry losing its importance, but its reading articles like this that really makes me happy. Long may out success continue.


  3. This country does not produce enough to sustain itself. The reliance on the service industries is dangerous, if there’s another crash i believe we will economically see a downturn and could well fall thru the trapdoor. The other industrys such as pharmaceuticals and nuclear is good but were not producing enough goods elsewhere. The arse will fall out of the car industry if car companies move out of britain. The current government i believe hasn’t got a clue what its doing. Are main trading partner the eu i believe will not bend to us. Unless manufacturing increases in existing or new industries i don’t see us competing with china the us or europe. Some people are delusional harking back to the great days of the british empire. Those days are gone. That was then and this is now. The move away from the eu i believe is a huge mistake, god help us.


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