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Survey: Wineries popping for cork closures see significantly higher growth

Of the top 100-selling wine brands, 72 are using cork, a trend that appears to correlate with greater sales growth, a new study reports.

cork2.jpgPremium domestic wineries are increasing their use of cork closures, with brands using cork showing higher annual sales growth over those using alternative closures, according to a survey released by the Cork Quality Counsel (CQC) and based on data from A.C. Nielsen.

The survey found that of the 100 top-selling wine brands, the number of brands using cork closures rose by 7.5% to 72 brands during the past five months. During the same period, those same brands sealed with cork closures posted an average annual sales increase of 10.2%, compared to annual growth of 3.7% for alternative closure types, according to the survey.

“We are happy to see a growing number of wine brands embracing natural cork, and anticipate a continuation of this trend as more wineries recognize that consumers prefer natural cork,” says Peter Weber, executive director of the CQC. “Additionally, more wineries are likely to switch back to natural cork as a way to promote sustainable practices.”

Real cork is recyclable and biodegradable, and it creates a powerful incentive for sustainable stewardship of Mediterranean cork oak forests, which provide one of the world’s richest ecosystems, explains the CQC. Metal screw caps and plastic stoppers are said to produce 10 to 24 times more greenhouse gases and consume as much as five times more nonrenewable energy than real cork over their life cycles, according to a peer-reviewed study by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The CQC study focused on the top 100-selling wine brands priced at over $6 per 750-mL bottle, was confined to supermarket sales, and did not include on-premise activity or sales from smaller wine shops. The top 100 brands include the majority of wine brands that use alternative wine closures. The survey’s results were affected by two of the top 100 brands switching back to cork closures from screw-caps and plastic-based stoppers and three cases in which wineries that used artificial closures were excluded from the survey because they no longer qualified for the top 100.

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