The cork sector is experiencing a period of great expansion and international recognition, clearly showing that it is the preference of the vast majority of wine producers worldwide. And consumers too. João Ferreira, president of APCOR - Portuguese Cork Association - shows that the numbers do not lie.
According to data from ine (National Institute of Statistics) the maximum history of exports in 2017 hit the record. Is it a sign that cork is on the rise? W
e already have more recent data, and they're very positive. 2018 broke the record we had achieved in 2017, now reaching 1,067.6 million euros and an eight percent rise compared to 2017. We have exceeded the €1 billion barrier and this is indeed a historic moment for the sector and Portugal.
Studies indicate that, on average, more than 90% of consumers worldwide prefer cork and associate swine of quality and elegance. Is it clearly the victory of cork over the other seals?
The numbers point to me. APCOR has developed a set of studies in several markets, and the results obtained proved to be very positive. Citing some examples, 97% of wine consumers in the U.S. associate cork stoppers with quality wines; 83% of French wine consumers prefer cork; 86% of Italians consider cork stopper so the best seal to ensure the quality of wine; 97% of Chinese consumers believe that wines that use cork are of better quality and 95% of Spaniards prefer cork stopper for wine and cava bottles.
APCOR estimates that 12 billion bottles worldwide have cork stoppers, 4 billion bottles have a screw seal, and 2 billion plastic seal. How did you make this estim
ate? In fact, there is no official source for the number of bottles produced annually. But it is an estimate built on the world's wine production and for the one that is bottled. Based on the amount of stoppers we sell and the data that our competitors are also spreading, we have been able to reach these numbers.
Amorim has been one of the companies that has invested the most in the investigation of the fight against TCA and promises full resolution in 2020. Have there been more companies involved and interested in tackling this
evil? The whole sector has been able to reinvent itself and invest in key areas for its development, such as quality, research, innovation and requalification of its human resources. There were more than 700 million euros of investment in about 15 years, in new factories, new processes, new skills. We are aware that very large steps have been taken, but that we cannot stagnate either and therefore investment in these areas will always be a bet of the sector. There is a general focus of companies in the sector on irradiating the TCA and individual or collective projects all fight along this path.
Since 2009 there has been a reaction from the cork sector to gain market share again, something that has been achieved. What measures have been taken more evident to have sold this battl
e? Above all other reasons is the vision and effort of our companies, entrepreneurs and workers. They never doubted what the right path was. And this moment is the merit of the effort put by everyone over the past few decades. Associated with this effort is undoubtedly all the investment made, which has enabled us to respond to market requirements and have an increasingly competitive product. We must not forget, too, that all this effort was always closely monitored by an international promotion strategy carried out by APCOR and that for 10 years it has also been looked at consumers and has changed in a way that has changed irreversible the way we communicate.
We already have numbers that play a lot in our favor. In the future, where do we want to
go? We want to continue to affirm the cork stopper as a world leader in the wine world. And in a world where natural products are increasingly valued. We have no doubt that cork will be a bet of the future. In addition to wine, we want to continue to invest in the use of cork in applications that add value, in technological areas and also on design. We live in a turning point in the global economic paradigm, where the bet will change the linear model by the circular, in a growth model based on sustainability and it is a pride to have in Portugal a world-leading sector that is based as a paradigm of all these challenges.