Stages of Production - The Nature of Production

An activity that introduces the nature of production for Level 2.

The Nature of Production - Stages of Production

Many goods go through different stages of production. We normally classify them into three groups:

  • Primary - This involves the extraction of raw materials from the earth. It includes such things as farming (agriculture), mining (coal, metals, precious stones), quarrying (extracting gravel, stone, etc.), fishing and forestry.
  • Secondary - This involves turning raw materials into other products. For example, fish might be sold whole after being skinned and boned, it might be minced and made into fish fingers or fish cakes, it might be used to make cat food, processed to be put into tins and so on.

    Tuna fish Tin of tuna

    Image: A tuna is a big fish - something has to happen to it to get it from its raw state into a tin! That's what processing is all about. Copyright: Nikita Golovanov and Tanja Sund

    Secondary production therefore involves processing or manufacturing - actually making something.

    Glass-making factory

    Image: This image shows a glass-making factory in Austria. On the left are the furnaces where molten glass is produced. On the right, workers blow the molten glass to form glasses and goblets. Copyright: Michael Slonecker

  • Tertiary - The tertiary (third) sector involves all the services that are provided to businesses and consumers. The vast majority of people in the UK work in service industries so they can be extremely varied in nature. A cleaner in an office block provides a service. So does a taxi driver, a supermarket, a mobile phone service provider, a lawyer, bank and refuse collector.

    Fire fighters at work

    Image: Fire fighters would be an example of people who work in the tertiary sector - they provide a service to the public. Copyright: Carl Dwyer

Most businesses will rely on all of these sectors to be able to provide their good or service. A restaurant, for example, will need to have fresh food (primary) but will need the services of a chef and a waiter/waitress (tertiary) and will have to have chairs, tables and cutlery, which in turn will have been manufactured (secondary). They will also have to be careful they meet legal requirements. If the health and safety inspectors (tertiary) come to visit they will expect to find everything spotless and food stored correctly.

Production is therefore dependent on different sectors all working together.

A Virgin train

Image: Some businesses pay a lot of money to buy the equipment they need to carry out their work. Train operators provide a service to passengers but they have to buy locomotives and carriages to do so. These will be manufactured by another business that in turn will have to purchase the raw materials (steel, wood, plastic, cloth, glass, etc.) from other firms. Copyright: Jon Wisbey


Man in Starbucks window.

A cup of coffee might give you a lift, but ever thought how it got to you? ©

In pairs, select a product that you are familiar with. It could be anything - a packet of crisps, mobile phone, a breakfast cereal, pen, piece of jewellery - anything!

Now sit and think about where the product came from. Think about what stages of production it has had to go through to get to you and what sort of business activities were involved in its production.You will need to think about the raw materials that might have been used in its manufacture, where they came from, what human involvement there would have been, what machinery might have been used and what services the business concerned would need to have used.

Try to clarify your thoughts by producing a mind map or similar to show all the processes involved.

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