In 2021, the United Kingdom’s 100 imported consumer products that generated the most spending totaled US$357.6 billion. That dollar amount represents 52% of the overall value of all UK imported goods ($688.2 billion).
The 5 most valuable consumer products imported into the United Kingdom during 2021 were gold, cars, petroleum gas, mobile phones and computers.
The total dollar amount for the United Kingdom’s top 100 imported consumer products flatlined by 1.4% gain from 2020 to 2021, compared to a 8.5% increase for all UK imported goods for the year.
Great Britain’s overall purchases of imported products–both overall and consumer–increased at a slower pace than the global average upturn of 26.5% from 2020 to 2021 incorporating all importing countries and all imported goods.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by the United Kingdom, 71 increased in total cost from 2020 to 2021 whereas 29 declined. Changes in UK consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a stale loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
UK’s Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases the United Kingdom’s 100 most valuable imported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
|4||Phones including smartphones||$17,560,251,000||-8.1%||SP|
|5||Computers, optical readers||$16,283,605,000||+0.6%||SP|
|7||Processed petroleum oils||$13,423,480,000||+36.7%||CP|
|14||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$4,264,817,000||+37.4%||SP|
|15||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$3,075,181,000||+31.8%||SP|
|16||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$3,038,748,000||+28.6%||SY|
|17||Rubber tires (new)||$2,976,794,000||+27.7%||SP|
|19||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$2,884,845,000||-1.8%||CP|
|20||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$2,884,643,000||+8.7%||SP|
|21||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$2,773,568,000||-1.2%||SP|
|23||Miscellaneous plastic items||$2,701,296,000||-28.7%||CP|
|24||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,678,907,000||+7.8%||CP|
|25||Video console games, table games||$2,588,737,000||+22.5%||SP|
|27||Electrical converters/power units||$2,479,210,000||+14.8%||SP|
|28||Cases, handbags, wallets||$2,453,581,000||+3.8%||SP|
|29||Electric storage batteries||$2,376,299,000||+29.5%||SY|
|30||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$2,374,774,000||+4.9%||CP|
|32||Electric generating sets, converters||$2,288,886,000||+190.6%||SY|
|34||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$2,262,843,000||-0.8%||SP|
|35||Other meats (prepared/preserved)||$2,140,785,000||-12.8%||CP|
|42||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$1,945,572,000||+20.6%||SP|
|43||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$1,868,098,000||+3.6%||CP|
|44||Household base metal mountings||$1,765,367,000||+39.8%||SY|
|45||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,643,669,000||-0.8%||SP|
|46||Miscellaneous food preparations||$1,613,711,000||-21.1%||CP|
|48||Computer parts, accessories||$1,584,908,000||-20.4%||SP|
|49||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,572,514,000||+0.9%||CP|
|51||Men's suits (unknit/non-crochet)||$1,512,859,000||+1.2%||SP|
|52||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$1,443,203,000||+35.7%||SP|
|53||Other fresh/chilled vegetables||$1,364,379,000||+0.5%||CP|
|56||Vulcanized rubber apparel||$1,326,161,000||+12.6%||SP|
|57||Waters with added sugar||$1,285,802,000||+1.5%||CP|
|58||Unrecorded sound media||$1,282,814,000||-15.1%||SP|
|59||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,255,919,000||+20.9%||CP|
|60||Dishwash, clean/dry/fill machines||$1,240,236,000||+13.2%||SY|
|61||Electric motors, not generating sets||$1,229,095,000||+11.8%||SY|
|63||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$1,186,265,000||+21%||CP|
|64||Fresh or chilled beef||$1,173,002,000||+21.2%||CP|
|66||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$1,132,145,000||-17.1%||SY|
|67||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$1,130,527,000||+47.3%||SP|
|69||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$1,114,895,000||+17.6%||SP|
|71||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$1,076,696,000||+1.1%||SP|
|72||Fruit and vegetable juices||$1,051,978,000||-2.7%||CP|
|73||Sauces, condiments, seasoning||$1,050,329,000||+5.5%||CP|
|74||Printed books, brochures||$1,020,027,000||-24.1%||SP|
|75||Perfumes, toilet waters||$1,015,730,000||+0.6%||CP|
|76||Whole fish (fresh)||$995,302,000||+53.7%||CP|
|77||Fish fillets, pieces||$971,665,000||-15%||CP|
|80||Fish, caviar (preserved/prepared)||$950,384,000||-9.2%||CP|
|83||Women's coats (unknit/non-crochet)||$872,931,000||+13%||SP|
|85||Grapes (fresh or dried)||$863,145,000||-3.8%||CP|
|86||Tufted carpets/textile floor coverings||$856,523,000||+34.6%||SP|
|87||Vulcanized rubber items||$839,032,000||+11.9%||SP|
|90||Fresh or dried citrus fruit||$825,910,000||-8%||CP|
|91||Miscellaneous textile items||$820,687,000||-84.4%||SP|
|93||Salted, dried or smoked offal, flours||$808,293,000||+1.6%||CP|
|94||Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)||$761,272,000||+24.9%||CP|
|96||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$742,195,000||+78.7%||SP|
|97||Men's coats (unknit/non-crochet)||$741,634,000||+5.6%||SP|
You can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2020 to 2021. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
The UK’s most popular product type is shopping products (SD) led by cars, mobile phones, computers, automotive parts or accessories, trucks and miscellaneous furniture. Shopping products represent roughly half (47) of the United Kingdom’s top 100 imported consumer goods.
In second place via 35 entries are convenience products (CP) led petroleum gas, medications, processed petroleum oils, wine, bread and pastries, then miscellaneous items made from plastics.
Speciality products (SY) placed 18 entries. Examples of speciality products are UK imports of gold, silver and jewelry.
Durable consumer products are goods like cars, refrigerators and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again. By product type, note that all shopping products and speciality products are considered as durable consumer products.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Alcoholic beverages and bananas are examples of non-durable goods. Convenience products are uniquely non-durable consumer products.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 65 of UK’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while the 35 convenience products are classified as non-durable.
Fastest-Growing Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into the United Kingdom that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2020 to 2021.
- Petroleum gas: Up 344.7% (US$26.8 billion)
- Electric generating sets, converters: Up 190.6% ($2.3 billion)
- Diamonds (unmounted/unset): Up 156.9% ($1.6 billion)
- Silver (unwrought): Up 125% ($6.2 billion)
- Items made from hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel: Up 78.7% ($742.2 million)
- Nitrogenous fertilizers: Up 55% ($816.8 million)
- Whole fish (fresh): Up 53.7% ($995.3 million)
- Trucks: Up 52.6% ($8.9 billion)
- Wrist/pocket watches with regular cases: Up 47.3% ($1.13 billion)
- Trailers: Up 45.2% ($1.16 billion)
Among the above top gainers, 8 items are durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. Drilling down, 4 of the durable items are shopping products that require a comparatively longer time to make a buying decision, while 4 top gainers are periodically purchased speciality items namely electric generating sets or converters, diamonds, silver and nitrogenous fertilizers.
The fastest-growing convenience products are petroleum gas and fresh whole fish. Consumers typically consider these items as non-durable products commonly referred to as disposable goods and therefore are used only once.
Worst-Declining Consumer Imports
The United Kingdom’s spending on the following 10 items decreased at the greatest pace from 2020 to 2021.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Down -84.4% (US$820.7 million)
- Gold (unwrought): Down -39.2% ($53.7 billion)
- Miscellaneous plastic items: Down -28.7% ($2.7 billion)
- Printed books, brochures: Down -24.1% ($1.02 billion)
- Miscellaneous food preparations: Down -21.1% ($1.61 billion)
- Computer parts, accessories: Down -20.4% ($1.58 billion)
- Footwear (textile): Down -19% ($1.61 billion)
- Hand-drawn paintings, drawings: Down -17.1% ($1.13 billion)
- Swine meat: Down -16.6% ($955.7 million)
- Unrecorded sound media: Down -15.1% ($1.28 billion)
Three among the UK’s top 10 declining imports are non-durable convenience products consumed one time only, namely miscellaneous plastic items, miscellaneous food preparations, and swine meat (pork). Gold and hand-drawn paintings or drawings are speciality products made the list of leading losers.
The remaining 5 import decliners are shopping products that normally require more time for shoppers to make buying decisions. Purchases under the shopping products category are more likely to be deferred than convenience products.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target the United Kingdom’s demand for its top 5 consumer import products.
The UK’s biggest imported consumer product by value is gold. The UK’s 4 other leading consumer imports are cars, petroleum gas, mobile phones, and computers.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for the United Kingdom’s major imports.
Gold: Russia (28.4% of total), Canada (18.2%), United States (15.8%), Switzerland (7.4%), Kazakhstan (6.5%), South Africa (4.6%), Uzbekistan (3.3%), Mexico (2.9%), Spain (2.5%), and Australia (2%).
Cars: Germany (39.5% of total), Belgium (11.7%), Spain (8.1%), mainland China (6.3%), South Korea (5.8%), Japan (4.2%), Slovakia (3.4%), Netherlands (3%), Turkey (2.8%), and France (2.6%).
Petroleum gas: Norway (74.1% of total), Qatar (8.2%), United States of America (5.3%), Russia (4.7%), Netherlands (4.2%), Algeria (1.5%), Peru (1.2%), Belgium (0.2%), Trinidad and Tobago (0.1%), and France (also 0.1%).
Mobile phones: Mainland China (54.7% of total), Vietnam (11.2%), Netherlands (6.8%), India (3.1%), United States of America (3%), Taiwan (2.9%), South Korea (also 2.9%), Germany (2.5%), Mexico (1.5%), and Ireland (1.2%).
Computers: Mainland China (61.9% of total), Netherlands (8.1%), Poland (5.4%), United States of America (4.5%), Germany (3.8%), Ireland (3.5%), Taiwan (2.5%), Czech Republic (1.5%), Vietnam (1.3%), and Thailand (1.2%).
More great research: United Kingdom’s Main Imports by Top Supplier Countries, 100 Most Valuable Consumer Imports for Sale to Ireland, US Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, China’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: United Kingdom Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Richest Country Reports, Top 100 Richest Countries by GDP.
Trading Economics, United Kingdom Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, United Kingdom’s Top 10 Imports.