As alternative closures now account for a third of the total market, the cork industry is mounting a new consumer campaign focusing on natural cork’s green credentials.
The www.ilovenaturalcork.com campaign asks consumers to sign a pledge to support natural cork and also calls on retailers and wine producers to state clearly whether wines are sealed by natural cork.
The campaign has been launched in conjunction with a new study commissioned by APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association.
It found 34% of the 1500 British wine drinkers polled favoured screwcaps, 32% preferred natural corks, and 4% opted for plastic stoppers.
However, when told natural cork had ‘environmental, social and cultural benefits’ nearly three in five said they would buy more wine sealed this way, and cork producers are now looking to drive its environmental message home.
Anne Seznec, marketing manager for screwcap producer Guala closures, told decanter.com: ‘In front of this kind of specific question involving social, environmental, and cultural benefits, any respondents will be in favour of natural cork.
‘It is accepted that the cork taint affects 3% – 5% of wines meaning hundreds of millions of litres of wines ruined every year: in other words, an enormous waste of energy,’ she added.
The latest round of green campaigning by the cork industry comes at a difficult time for cork producers.
Cork forest owner Francisco Almeida Garret said: ‘With the economic downturn and the rise of artificial wine stoppers, the value of cork has eroded and is now about half of what it was a decade ago.’
Of a total market of 18bn closures sold per year, it is estimated natural cork now accounts for 69% of sales, synthetics account for 20%, and screwcaps 11% (Nomacorc Internal Estimates, 2009). A decade ago, natural cork represented 95-100% of the closures market.
Written by Rebecca Gibb