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Closures not a priority for US consumers, says survey

Most wine drinkers in the US only notice the bottle closure if there is a problem, according to new research commissioned by Nomacorc, but contested by natural cork producers.

Closures may get many wine professionals foaming at the mouth, but it seems US consumers are not so fussed. Almost all of the 600 regular wine drinkers surveyed by Merrill Partners Research said that closure type is not among their top three reasons for buying a wine.

‘The research showed that most core wine drinkers only focus on the closure when it creates a problem,’ said Merrill co-founder Pat Merrill. Synthetic closure producer Nomacorc commissioned the study.

Natural corks are still used in around 70% of wine sold in the US, but Nomacorc wants to eat further into this share by highlighting its own closures’ reliability.

Speaking to Decanter.com, Nomacorc’s global marketing director, Jeff Slater, said that half of consumers questioned by Merrill have had a problem with natural cork, including taint and breakages. He said this supports Nomacorc’s position. ‘I don’t pay attention to a broken shoelace, but if I buy new ones and they break again, suddenly it has my attention.’

However, Carlos de Jesus, spokesperson for leading natural cork producer Amorim, said the Nomacorc-sponsored study ‘flies in the face’ of other research. ‘There are over a dozen other surveys commissioned by the cork industry around the world, including in the US, that show consumer preference for natural cork is overwhelming,’ he told Decanter.com.

De Jesus added that Amorim’s volume sales have risen by double-digit percentage points in the US in the last two years. ‘The US wine industry didn’t grow as fast as that, so we’re confident we have grown market share,’ he said.

Written by Chris Mercer

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