Plant & Works Engineering
Food, beverage and automotive manufacturers drive Q1 productivity
Published:  15 May, 2024

UK manufacturers produced goods and materials worth £150.5 billion in the first three months of 2024, a reduction of 0.8% year-on-year, according to analysis of ONS data by FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics. FourJaw’s analysis, which informs its UK Manufacturing Productivity Index, reveals that several sectors bucked this small decline in output:

• Food production increased by 4.3% to £25.3bn in the first three months of 2023, thanks partly to productivity improvements in the sector worth an estimated £967m.

• The motor vehicles & transport equipment industries also boosted output, delivering a £2.6bn (8.8%) year-on-year gain to £31.9bn in Q1 2024.

• Producers of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products also achieved productivity gains worth £249m over the last year, boosting output levels to £4.7bn.

While the overall fall in manufacturing output was led by reductions in the metals, metal products & machinery (down 11.5%) and chemicals & pharmaceutical preparations (down 7.4%), both of these sectors recovered ground in the first three months of 2024. Metals, metal products & machinery output was 0.5% higher in Q1 than in the final quarter of 2023 (increasing from £11.3bn to £11.4bn), while chemicals & pharmaceutical output grew by 4.0% on a quarterly basis (up from £9.6bn to £10.0bn).

With around 2,000 fewer active manufacturers operating in the UK than a year ago, the overall reduction in output represents a decline of 0.2% (£23,000) per company in the first quarter. Output per manufacturing employee fell by 0.1% year-on-year. 

Chris Iveson, CEO at FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics, comments: “While it was encouraging to see the UK economy return to growth in the first quarter of 2024, manufacturers continue to face economic uncertainty, supply chain issues, and higher input costs. Manufacturing has been robust over the last few years and many manufacturers have delivered significant productivity gains to protect their margins and businesses. Although output is down a touch over the last quarter, it is encouraging to see sectors such as food production and automotive bucking the trend and delivering substantial improvements.”