Cork, vital for the growth of the wine economy

A virtual workshop organised by the Catalan Cork Institute highlights the important alliance between the cork sector and the wine sector to grow in the international market and position cork as a "premium" material of great added value.

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Photo: Adobe Stock

In recent years, the market share of premium wines at national and international level has increased considerably. But what are the keys to a wine being considered a premium? Undoubtedly, the cork sector plays a major role in this value chain.

A workshop was held on May 31 to gather and analyse the most interesting data on the export of the wine sector, as well as the growth of its economy in international markets and the behavior of consumers in the US and Chinese markets. This was organised by Catalan Cork Institute Foundation (ICSuro), the Catalan Cork Entrepreneu Association (AECORK) and the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR).

Great experts from the sector at national and international level took part of it, such as Pau Roca, Director General of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), Dorian Tang, Education Director at ASC Fine Wines, the leading importer and distributor of wines in China and Mike Veseth, editor of “The Wine Economist” rated the world’s best wine blog in 2015.

First of all, Pau Roca explored the opportunities of the wine economy in Spain, its export and the fundamental role that the cork sector obtains in growth. “Cork is a natural material that allows the wine to age better and the cork stoppers offer a negative carbon balance. But the most important thing is the sustainability and the thousands of hectares behind each cork, the harvesting that are made every 9/14 years, the forest… It is wonderful to be able to sustain this thanks to the cork stoppers and therefore the benefits of the contribution of cork to the wine economy is incomparable to other materials”, said Pau Roca at the seminar.

These statements were corroborated by international experts, who toured the key points in the economy of the wine sector in the United States and China, and also highlighted the current challenges of exporting Spanish wine to these countries. “Ordinary wine consumers are no longer looking for ‘the best bargains,’ but they are opting for the premium factor, and most of them are covered with cork”, said Mike Veseth.

On the other hand, Dorian Tang reinforced the argument of international consumption of premium wine and associated it with those sealed with cork: “In China, the trend of sustainable sealing of wine bottles is growing, and cork is directly related to this. In addition, it is synonymous with quality, as 95% of the best wines in China are sealed with cork.”

Photo: Catalan Cork Institute Foundation (ICSuro)

Cork is the perfect closure for wine

According to a recent study by Nielsen, the world’s leading consumer information, data and audience analysis company, conducted in 2020, there is a notorious preference in the United States for the use of natural cork when buying premium wines. More than 70% of the top 100 premium wine brands are cork-sealed, and they have grown in sales and market share in recent years.

This is stated by experts in the cork sector. According to Joan J. Puig, President of AECORK: “Due to its technical characteristics, its sustainable implications and its commitment to maintaining the biodiversity of cork oak, cork is irreplaceable. We are cork makers and we are proud to stand up for what is natural. We will continue to ask the world to be ambassadors for our product.”

“We are very satisfied with the result of the workshop for the quality of the presentations and the number of people attending. I believe that the information provided will facilitate the making of strategic decisions in wineries in an extremely turbulent international context. With this webinar, we are consolidating the cork-wine alliance, which goes far beyond closing bottles”, said Albert Hereu, Director of the Catalan Cork Institute Foundation and spokesman for the InterCork initiative.