Put A “Natural” Cork In It!

Written by: Dennis G. Serrette

Did you know it took 43 years to make the cork top in, what is likely, your favorite bottle of wine? Today, Cohort 16 visited Corticeira Amorim, the world’s largest producer of natural cork. Our adventure began almost immediately upon meeting Ines who took us on a tour of the plant; she walked us through the entire process of how cork is made. Well, almost all!  You see, cork oak (Quercus Suber L) takes 25 years before it can be stripped of its bark for the first time and then another nine years before it can be stripped again, but only the third time can it reach the high standard of quality required for cork production.  That’s over 40 years for that one cork top you’re about to pull.  Can you believe that??? 

Amorim, a fourth generation company, traces its roots back to the 19th century in the beautiful country of Portugal. It is the largest cork and cork derived company in the world, generating more than 763 million Euro in sales (2018) from more than 100 countries through their network of dozens of fully owned subsidiaries.  With a multi-million Euro R&D investment per year, Amorim applied its special knowledge to this centuries-old industry as diverse and demanding as wines & spirits, aerospace, automotive, construction, sports, interior and fashion design.  Amorim strongly feels that their responsible approach to raw materials and sustainable production illustrates the remarkable interdependence between the industry and a vital ecosystem – one of the world’s most balanced examples of social, economic, and environmental development.

After an amazing plant tour, we had the pleasure of meeting Carlos Jesus who treated the team to a fantastic presentation on Amorim’s history, corporate strategy, and global positioning as well as its perspective on the future of cork. As a cohort, this visit was very significant since we had come to Portugal having researched this company for our class project.  This visit presented the opportunity for us to confirm our research, learn new facts, and explore answers to new questions to support the cases we were all expected to present in the coming days. You can guess the energy level of the group!  Mr. Jesus was an incredible presenter who exhibited vast knowledge while providing candid thoughts of not only Amorim, but also the industry and its future. 

So, the next time you pop one of the 31 million corks made every year in your favorite bottle of wine feel good about the responsible partner in Amorim fighting to support our planet and environment!