1. Introduction

The UK manufacturers’ sales by product survey, or PRODCOM as it is more commonly known, is the most comprehensive annual business survey covering product sales of the manufacturing industry, conducted by us. It is carried out annually by all European Union member states, under EU regulation.

PRODCOM presents annual estimates on the value and volume of products manufactured in the UK. The published reference tables provide estimates of value, volume and unit value (value per unit of volume) for each product heading, where possible. Other data available by industry includes total turnover, merchanted goods, work done sales of waste products and all other income.

This section provides information and guidance supporting the PRODCOM survey. The latest estimates from PRODCOM are available on the UK manufacturers' sales by product release page.

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2. PRODCOM history and background

Regulations - bringing PRODCOM to its current format

On 19 December 1991 the European Economic Community(EEC) Council regulation No 3924/91 came into effect. This stated that all European Member States should supply the European Statistical Office (Eurostat) with production data, based on a common list of products. This was deemed necessary for the European Commission (EC) to monitor the impact of its community policy regarding trade and industry. With the introduction of the single European market, there was a greater expectation to gather general information such as the size of the market and penetration rates etc.

On 29 April 2004 Council regulation (EEC) No 912/2004 was adopted to further enhance the survey population. It stated:

  • the survey population shall be enterprises whose principal activity or one of its secondary activities is listed in C,D or E of the classification of economic activities in the European Community

  • the obligation to be limited to the survey population's observation units to supply true and complete information

  • the obligation on member states to adopt survey methods designed to facilitate the collection of data from units representing at least 90% of national production per Nomenclature of Economic Activities (NACE) class

Under this new Regulation, Eurostat aimed to create:

  • a sufficient degree of detail to enable users from private and public sectors to derive a recognisable benefit

  • comparability with external trade statistics to ensure the calculation of useful data about the size of the markets; this looked to harmonise both the value and volume measurement (quantity)


In 1993 the new PRODCOM survey came into effect, replacing 2 product-based inquiries – UK’s annual and quarterly sales inquiries (ASI/QSI).

The main differences between the 2 surveys were:


  • only grossed at total sales/turnover level for each industry.

  • published annualised totals for the quarterly data.

  • more quarterly industries.

  • published in more timely but random fashion.

  • published number of enterprises.


  • grossed at product level.

  • difference between product headings (i.e. sometimes there is no correlation between what was used previous and now).

  • published in June annually, to meet EU deadlines

Development through the years (36.2 Kb Pdf)

Major initiatives that have been implemented since the survey’s inception in 1993 are related to:

  • minimising the burden on data suppliers

  • improving public confidence in the integrity and validity of outputs

  • improving the quality and relevance of service to customers

  • improving value for money

  • Improving data access

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3. PRODCOM news

News about the latest developments that have brought changes to the PRODCOM survey.

December 2015

News item: What’s new - December 2015

A user engagement survey was carried out in autumn 2015 to find out how users utilise our key outputs, and views on the quality of the publications. The main findings and the outcome are summarised in the user engagement report and will be used to help improve our products and services and to develop the way we engage with users.

A short story on popular winter-related products sold by UK manufacturers was published with the 2014 Intermediate results. This follows our short story in June 2015 on popular summer-related products sold by UK manufacturers which gained wide media coverage.

A technical report that describes the methodological and technical procedures that are used to produce PRODCOM estimates was published in June 2015 to complement a user interpretation manual.

A user interpretation manual was published in December 2014 to aid user interpretation and use of PRODCOM estimates. This manual has been revised to include detailed guidance when using open data tables.

PRODCOM Open Data reference tables have been restructured to improve user experience. Users are encouraged to view the open data reference tables online as well as download the dataset as a csv file.

PRODCOM data and metadata deposited at the Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML) were improved in July 2015. Users are encouraged to apply to the VML to access the microdata.

The annual changes to the PRODCOM product list, from 2011 to 2014, are available to users through the PRODCOM publications webpage or the VML.

September 2015

News item: PRODCOM launches a user engagement survey running from 14 September 2015 to 23 October 2015

The UK Manufacturers’ Sales by Product survey (PRODCOM) is the most comprehensive annual survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) covering manufacturers’ product sales. It provides estimates of value, volume and unit value of each product, where possible.

We would like your views on how we disseminate these statistics in order to help us better understand and account for your needs.

The user engagement survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. All responses will remain anonymous. Please see our confidentiality statement for further details. A response to your feedback will be published in winter 2015.

If you have any queries, kindly contact William Barnes on 01633 455711 or email prodcompublications@ons.gsi.gov.uk.

Please make your views known by participating in our short survey which will close on 23 October 2015.

December 2014

News item: Prodcom launches a new format for publishing reference tables

From December 2014, PRODCOM reference tables will be published in open data format.

The open data format is consistent with our policy to make data available to users in a format that:

  • is user friendly and more accessible

  • will enable users to explore the data using our Data Explorer, with the ability to easily filter and customise the data into the structure and format that best fits their needs

  • will allow the users to download either the full or the filtered data in a range of formats including Excel (XLS), CSV and Extensible Markup Language (XML)

  • will enable PRODCOM estimates to be interrogated efficiently through an application programming interface (API); this is an interface that allows the user’s application to access data dynamically direct from our data sets, rather than accessing them by download

Based on user feedback, the PRODCOM reference table format, currently provided in just Excel, may be replaced from the June 2014 provisional release with the open data format.

Kindly feedback any comments or concerns you may have with respect to the open data format. Contact the PRODCOM Results, Analysis and Publication team via email: prodcompublications@ons.gsi.gov.uk or telephone William Barnes on +44 (0) 1633 455711.

November 2014

News item: Trade data removed from Prodcom releases

Intra- and extra-EU imports and exports data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), together with the trade balance and UK net supply data, is published alongside PRODCOM estimates. There are, however, known comparability issues between the 2 data sources (see “Quality and methods information”). The calculation of the published trade data also needs to be improved. Following discussion with users, we will cease the publication of the trade data from future PRODCOM releases.

Starting from the 2013 intermediate and 2012 final results, due for release on 18 December 2014, PRODCOM estimates will be published without the trade data. Users who require the trade data may obtain it directly from the HMRC website but should consider the comparability issues between the 2 data sources when drawing comparisons.

A review of the trade data published alongside PRODCOM will be undertaken with the view to reintroduce it if it is possible to improve comparability. Updates of progress will be available on the PRODCOM news page.

Meanwhile we welcome any feedback you might have and would be particularly interested in knowing how you make use of PRODCOM estimates to inform your work. Please contact us via email: prodcompublications@ons.gsi.gov.uk or telephone William Barnes on +44 (0)1633 455711.

December 2012

News item: PRODCOM launches a User Survey running from 20 December 2012 to 14 February 2013

Please make your views known by participating in this survey

July 2012

News item: PRODCOM is assessed by the UK Statistics Authority against the code of practice for Official Statistics. The outcome outlines 9 requirements and 4 suggestions.

The report is made available on the Statistics Authority's website.

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4. PRODCOM publications

The PRODCOM survey publishes product information from approximately 21,500 businesses covering 234 industries (of the manufacturing sector) and around 3,800 products. Although products are classified under an industry classification, businesses outside these industry classifications can produce these products. In the same vein, businesses within an industry classification can manufacture products outside the industry. Each business can therefore span a variety of products depending on its diversity.

Estimates are published twice-yearly, in June and December. Product information is available by sales volume and value and by unit value (i.e. the cost by item, kg, etc). Other variables covered include total turnover, merchanted goods, work done, sales of waste products and all other income.

In the releases published up to June 2013 provisional estimates, and estimates of intra and extra EU imports and exports, were also reported alongside estimates of PRODCOM sales. This data is collected by HMRC and is matched with the PRODCOM codes and included within the PRODCOM tables for the benefit of demonstrating the UK trade balance and UK net supply by product. Due to comparability issues between the 2 data sources and following discussion with users, we have ceased including the trade data in PRODCOM releases. See the PRODCOM Quality and Methodology Information Report (262.6 Kb Pdf) and PRODCOM news page for further details.

Data from the PRODCOM survey is available from its inception in 1993. Manufacturing data for earlier years is available through our Library service and relates to data originally published in the annual trade statistics reports.

The variables are published based on the following hierarchy.

The PRODCOM list, which is set by the European Commission, contains a comprehensive breakdown of industries. The structure of the PRODCOM codes is derived from various classification systems.

A PRODCOM user guide has been developed and published to aid the interpretation of PRODCOM estimates. This user guide explains the variables in PRODCOM and illustrates how the estimates can be used. A technical report is under development to complement the user guide.

Product information is available on request from the PRODCOM Research, Analysis and Publication team. Please contact: prodcompublications@ons.gsi.gov.uk or telephone +44 (0)1633 456746.

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5. PRODCOM survey quality and methods

PRODCOM methodology, technical reports, future developments and reviews.

This report replaces our quality report and provides an overview of the procedures used by us to produce the PRODCOM survey. The report is aimed at users who want to know more about the background and history, uses and users, and concepts and statistical methods underlying the survey. It includes information about sample design, data collection, results processing, publications and quality issues.

With effect from 1 April 2008, the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 gives The Authority statutory powers to carry out assessments of the extent to which Official Statistics comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. The Act also enables the Authority "to monitor the production and publication of Official Statistics."

This report documents the UK Statistics Authority assessment of the PRODCOM survey conducted in June 2012. The outcome of this report identifies a number of requirements and suggestions to ensure PRODCOM complies with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. It is these requirements that have helped PRODCOM focus its future developments through 2013.

This report documents the quality of the latest results across the European Union. The document provides a further insight into the use of PRODCOM data outside of the UK.


Example questionnaires

PRODCOM standard questionnaire at first selection

PRODCOM customised questionnaire, containing unique product questions, tailored for the individual business need

To minimise burden on businesses, the PRODCOM survey questionnaire is tailored to the business requirement. Following initial investigation, upon first selection, the survey questionnaire is administered with specified product questions, uniquely tailored to the individual business.

Over time, should a business diversify, change, add or delete products, the product questions are reviewed and the questionnaire is amended to contain only the relevant product questions. Questions relating to value and volume are stipulated by the PRODCOM list. Where no volume questions are required, none are added to the survey questionnaire, and the respondent is asked to complete the value information only.

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6. PRODCOM user engagement and survey management

User engagement

We continuously aim to improve PRODCOM publications and associated commentary. We would welcome any feedback you might have and would be interested in knowing how you make use of PRODCOM estimates to inform your work. Users are particularly encouraged to feed back or comment on recent survey developments such as the reformatted Excel reference tables, the open data format and the user interpretation guide.

PRODCOM User Engagement (64.6 Kb Pdf) - is an analysis of PRODCOM user feedback and our plans to address the issues identified through that feedback.

How to comment, question or offer feedback on PRODCOM

The PRODCOM Research, Analysis and Publications (RAP) team would like to improve the way that we engage with you, the users of our estimates. We aim to:

  • make it easier for you to comment, question and offer feedback on PRODCOM and its planned developments, so that improvements to our outputs and services can be prioritised in response to user suggestions

  • create a forum for users to share information and experience with each other

  • keep you up to date with planned developments

With this in mind, we also encourage you to feed back through the Business and Trade Statistics Community on the StatsUserNet forum. StatsUserNet is the Royal Statistical Society’s new interactive site for users of Official Statistics. It enables you to join online communities for your areas of interest and even create your own. You can:

  • keep up-to-date, and update others, with developments in your areas of interest.

  • ask questions – other members may be able to help.

  • participate in and start discussions.

  • share resources such as useful documents and presentations.

  • connect with other members who share your interests.

  • comment on Official Statistics publications.

  • feedback on plans for Official Statistics.

Joining only takes a couple of minutes. Register by clicking ‘Log in or sign up’ at StatsUserNet, locate the Business and Trade Statistics Community through the ‘Communities’ menu, and click join.

Annual Business Survey (ABS)/PRODCOM Government User Group

The possibility of having a joint ABS/PRODCOM Government User Group was discussed at a meeting with users in November 2014.

The primary role of this joint Government User Group is to liaise with government users in order that ABS/PRODCOM can, where possible, meet their requirements. The user group will report to the ABS/PRODCOM Management Board.

The role of the ABS/PRODCOM Government User Group is to:

  • keep government users fully aware of the progress of PRODCOM and ABS surveys

  • give government users the opportunity to list their requirements, voice any concerns and communicate their views to the ABS/PRODCOM Management Board

  • provide feedback in terms of any issues concerning the quality of the ABS/PRODCOM estimates with a view to informing the development and implementation of the survey

  • communicate and feed back to government users the introduction of proposed changes to ABS/PRODCOM, such as coverage and methodology

  • give data users the opportunity to provide information on how ABS/PRODCOM data is being used and the decisions it is informing

An update will be provided on the membership of this user group.

Management Board

We have reviewed the governance of our business surveys and have set up a joint ABS/PRODCOM Management Board.

The primary roles of the ABS/PRODCOM Management Board are to communicate to its members any high-level developments affecting both PRODCOM and ABS surveys and associated areas, and to make strategic decisions on PRODCOM and ABS matters.

The role of the Management Board is to:

  • decide on strategic issues or planned major changes before they are communicated more widely, to the ABS Government User Group and ABS Micro-data User Group, for example

  • be the main forum for communication of ABS/PRODCOM high-level issues, whether concerning ABS/PRODCOM directly or in Board member areas affecting ABS/PRODCOM; the main focus is on the ABS/PRODCOM inter-relationship with National Accounts (NA), Eurostat, Business Data Division (BDD), Information Management (IM) and Survey Methodology (SM)

  • exchange information between Board members, particularly with a view to alerting each other to future developments that might have an impact on their specific area

An update will be provided on the membership of this Board.

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