Portuguese Cork Industry 90 Years Ahead on Sustainability

Like all sectors of the economy, the wine industry has suffered from stretched supply chains in  the COVID era. However, one bright spot has been the cork industry, which throughout this period has been able to maintain its supply chain and ensure that “no wine in 2022 will need an artificial stopper due to cork supply problems”, in the words of Carlos de Jesus, the Operational Director of APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association, in an interview with SupplyChain Magazine.  Carlos attributes cork’s ability to weather this storm to it’s deep experience providing billions of corks annually through all sorts of economic climates, and connects the industry’s resilience to “planning, planning, and more planning”, and sustainable practices that go back over 90 years, when visionaries planted cork oaks that would provide revenue streams far into the future.  In fact, while many industries have been slow to adopt environmentally friendly reforms, the Portuguese cork industry was practicing sustainability well before it became a key concern. Cork is a 100 percent natural and renewable product that is made from the bark of the cork oak tree, which regenerates after being harvested. The trees can live for 200 years or longer but it takes 25 years for a cork oak to start to produce cork. 

Founded in 1956, APCOR advocates on behalf of the Portuguese cork industry worldwide and plays a key role in establishing industry standards, promoting R&D and implementing educational campaigns for consumers and trade. Based in Santa Maria da Feira, in Northern Portugal, the organization is the engine for an industry that combines tradition, innovation and sustainability.  Today, Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork and home to the largest collection of cork oak trees.

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