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The Spanish forestry sector, with the support of the cork industry, has presented this campaign as the best way of supporting the sustainability of a natural resource, the cork tree

The International Wine Salon, wihch is held in Madrid, was the stage for the presentation of Promocor, promoted by the Confederation of Forestry Organisations of Spain (COSE).

It should be pointed out that sales of cork have suffered a decrease in the last five years due to the entry into the market of other types of synthetic stopper, some being oil derivatives, because they accuse the natural stopper, unjustly according to the cork industry, of “contaminating” some wines with unpleasant tastes.

Thus in the period 2000-2005 world demand for cork stoppers fell from 20,000 million stoppers to 16,300 million, due to the smear campaigns against cork.

For this reason, with a budget of 170,000 euros, of which 70,000 were provided by the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for the Environment, the campaign, among other actions, will defend the use of cork, a natural product, on which many families in the countryside depend, against artificial stoppers.

In order to try to inform consumers about the advantages of cork the campaign will involve the distribution of 500,000 rings for wine bottles with cork stoppers, of which 200,000 will go out internationally and the rest will go to 17 wine cellars of 15 denominations of origin.

In this regard the president of Agrupación Sanvicenteña de Empresarios del Corcho of Extremadura (ASECOR), Joaquín Rodríguez, has indicated that the initiative has the support of the industry, because they have realised that for some years certain pressure groups have been denigrating the cork stopper to encourage sales of synthetic, non-natural stoppers.

He has also criticised abuse of the term “cork taint” due to trichloroanisoles, as the problem has been solved and the number of cases reduced thanks to lines of investigation and quality programmes put in motion by the industry itself.

Moreover only small amounts of wine have been affected by this problem, Rodríguez commented, as “cork is, by a long way, the best stopper for wine”.

Meanwhile the person in charge of cork at the COSE, Joan Batey, has pointed out that wine has been stopped with cork for 300 years, emphasising the importance of this crop for the rural economy, as the cultivation of a cork tree involves up to ten generations, the tree living for 250 years.

According to Batey the Eurpoean Union has the greatest spread of cork trees in the world, in which Portugal stands out with nearly 860,000 hectares, followed by Spain with 725,000 and Algeria with 440,000 hectares, according to data provided by the president of the Institute for Cork, Wood and Coal of Extremadura (Ilprocor), Miguel Elena.

In view of the attack by other synthetic stoppers and to stress the value of cork, the person in charge of cork at the COSE has stated it was necessary to put in motion a campaign to stress the value of cork and to do this they are beginning with the distribution of the rings which give five reasons why people should go for cork.

The quality of cork, which is a natural non-polluting product, and comes from the cork tree source of biodiversity, which is ecological and stressing the value of the tradition of this system of production which does not affect the environment, are the factors emphasised in the ring.

The manufacture of the cork stopper accounts for 85% of the turnover of the cork industry in Spain and in the world.
News from the cork industry > MORE THAN 30,000 TONS
The cork industry has exceeded 30,000 tons for the first time in the decade.

The cork industry in Extremadura is on the point of closing a decorking campaign which, according to the forecasts made by the Institute for Cork, Wood and Coal of Extremadura (Ilprocor), will beat production records of the last decade. While official figures are still awaited, the harvest could reach or exceed 31,000 tons.

“For the first time in the last seven or eight years the campaign is being carried out in the most favourable way. We are going to achieve the biggest harvest this century and even of part of the 90s, approximately between 30,000 and 31,000 tons of cork, with which we exceed by some way the average production of 25,000 we have had in recent years”, explains Miguel Elena, director of Iprocor. Among the causes, he points out, is the fact that producers have taken the harvest of 2006 and important remainders from the two previous years.

To this is added the high quality of the extractions made. “There has been a further gain in calibre, because there were significant parts of the surface-areas decorked of each cork tree which were a year older than what was due for this campaign”, he indicated.
The industry will also benefit from stability of prices, which will stay at the levels of last year: around 45 euros per hundred-weight for the inferior class, 70 for the intermediate class and over 90 for the select class.

For the moment Iprocor considers that the drought suffered last year and which is being repeated this summer is not affecting production or quality. Miguel Elena states that “it is a phenomenon which should not have an effect on the trees, as for that it would have to last two or three years, and what we have at the moment is a drought lasting months. The effects of the lack of rain are not preceptible, although there could be problems if the situation goes on too long”.

Another of the threats to the industry is in the area of bottle stoppers. Plastic and aluminium have taken some of the market away from cork, although Miguel Elena trusts it will soon recover. “The problem is that it is cheaper to make a product with oil than it is to use another prepared by craftsmanship. It is a question of saving, but everything depends on trends and we have to try to correct this tendency to replace cork with other materials. The industry is reacting and plastic is losing ground slightly”, he explains.