The association said new outdoor sport and PE facilities for primary schools are boosting the UK play market but budget cuts for local authorities - traditionally the UK's biggest play-buying market - are having a major impact on public play provision for local communities.
The latest figures from API member companies show order values worth £48.2 million for the second quarter of 2015 – up 9.6 per cent on the same quarter last year. The increase was driven by orders from the education sector, which has been buoyed by Sport England's National Lottery-funded Primary Spaces initiative.
API chair Michael Hoenigmann said: "Despite evidence of the benefits of active play, both to child development and to wider societal well-being, play lacks a Cabinet champion. This means we are yet to see play given the credibility it deserves as a preventative measure against obesity.
"We believe the cost of adopting a national play strategy that provides opportunities for children in every local community to be physically active is a small price to pay compared to the long-term growing cost to the NHS of doing nothing."