The Supply Chain and Environmental Impact of Your Whiskey

November 20, 2019

The production of distilled beverages involves a large supporting cast of industries and occupations. It also consumes energy and takes an environmental toll. This analysis looks at the value added and imports, by industry, needed to produce distilled liquor. I also look at which occupations and how much compensation goes into distilled beverage production. Finally, I examine the environmental toll of producing distilled beverages and which sources of energy are relied upon for production.

Turning first to the value added and imports, by industry, needed in the production of distilled beverages, Figure 1, below, shows the top five industries whose value added in the distilled beverage supply chain contributes to production. The top industry by value added is distilleries, followed by other basic organic chemical manufacturing. Rounding out the top 5 is petrochemical manufacturing.

Figure 1.  Top 5 Industries by Value Added Needed to Produce Distilled Liquor
Industry DescriptionValue Added ($million)
Other basic organic chemical manufacturing1281.335399
Other nondurable goods merchant wholesalers1057.69004
Oil and gas extraction736.5235007
Petrochemical manufacturing495.7415599

Figure 2, below, looks at what the top 5 industries are in terms of imports for the production of distilled beverages. The top industry is oil and gas extraction. Rounding out the top 5 is glass and plastic bottle manufacturing.

Figure 2.  Top 5 Industries by Imports Needed to Produce Distilled Liquor
Industry DescriptionImports ($million)
Oil and gas extraction1379.825159
Other basic organic chemical manufacturing585.9886886
Glass and glass product manufacturing259.7415933
Plastics bottle manufacturing259.6863015

Figure 3, below, shows the total amount of value added across all industries that goes into the output of distilled beverages. The total amount of value added is $19.3 billion dollars. The total amount of imports that go into distilled beverage output is $4.4 billion.

Figure 3.  Industry Value Added Needed to Produce Distilled Liquor
Value Added ($ million)Imports ($million)
Total Distilled Liquor Output Requirements19,340.994,391.32

Next, I turn to the topic of labor. I examine which occupations contribute to the production of distilled liquor and show how much each occupation earns in compensation. Figure 4, below, shows that all occupations accounted for $6 billion in compensation. Production occupations accounted for 18.6% of total compensation and is followed by management occupations, transportation and material moving occupations, and sales and related occupations.

Figure 4.  Compensation by Occupation to Produce Distilled Liquor
OccupationCompensation ($million)
All Occupations6039.9
Management Occupations914.5
Business and Financial Operations Occupations447.4
Computer and Mathematical Occupations250.2
Architecture and Engineering Occupations256.5
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations134.8
Community and Social Service Occupations3.1
Legal Occupations57.7
Education, Training, and Library Occupations6.2
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations81.9
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations40
Healthcare Support Occupations4.3
Protective Service Occupations22.7
Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations117.2
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations56.9
Personal Care and Service Occupations13.6
Sales and Related Occupations572.3
Office and Administrative Support Occupations633
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations94.7
Construction and Extraction Occupations127
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations377.7
Production Occupations1122.6
Transportation and Material Moving Occupations695.5

The production of distilled liquor uses energy and takes a toll on the environment. Looking first at energy consumption by end use, Figure 5, below, shows that indirect uses of boiler fuel is the top ranking end use category of energy consumption. Boiler fuel usage is followed by process heating and machine drive. The manufacturing of distilled liquor takes up relatively little of conventional electricity generation.

Figure 5.  Manufacturing Energy Consumption to Produce Distilled Liquor by End Use ($million)
End useTotal
Indirect Uses-Boiler Fuel139.7412
 Facility Lighting12.62578
 Facility HVAC 28.13896
 Conventional Electricity Generation0.079988
 Other Facility Support4.744567
 Other Nonprocess Use0.757635
 Electro-Chemical Processes20.1156
 Machine Drive124.2276
 Onsite Transportation3.323337
 Other Process Use11.12213
 Process Cooling and Refrigeration22.1742
 Process Heating128.8045
End Use Not Reported12.47616

The toll on the environment can be seen in Figure 6, below. Grain farming has the greatest environmental impact at .12% of total U.S. Impact. It accounts for over one-third of the total impact for producing distilled liquor. The total environmental impact, across all industries, of distilling liquor is 0.33% of the total US impact.

Figure 6.  Top Five Industries with the Greatest Environmental Impact in Producing Distilled Liquor
Industry DescriptionPercent of Total US ImpactPercent of Total for Producing Distilled Liquor
Grain farming0.12%38.22%
Oil and gas extraction0.04%10.95%
Other basic organic chemical manufacturing0.03%10.28%
Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution0.02%6.36%

This descriptive analysis shows that the production of distilled liquor engages a web of industries and occupations that are not normally visible to the consumer of distilled beverages. Its production also consumes energy and leaves an environmental footprint. This post sheds light on who the supporting cast is in distilling beverages.

Source: https://www.nist.gov/services-resources/software/manufacturing-cost-guide

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