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Cork adds £5 to the value of wine

How much does a cork stopper add to the value of wine sold in the UK restaurant sector? Exactly £5.38, according to research released by APCOR yesterday.

CGA found that cork-stoppered labels retail for an average of £5.38 more per bottle than those with an alternative closure

The study, carried out by on-premise data specialist CGA, has been funded by The Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR), which, as previously reported by the drinks business, has committed €7.8 million to promote cork worldwide, including €1m towards marketing the stopper in the UK alone.

As part of this investment, APCOR commissioned CGA to analyse the pricing of the top 50 still wine brands sold in the UK on-trade to see if there is a price difference between those bottles sealed with a cork, and those closed with a synthetic stopper or screwcap.

CGA found that cork-stoppered labels retail for an average of £5.38 more per bottle than those with an alternative closure.

The same piece of research also showed that the price gap between closure types is widening, with the retail price of cork-sealed wine increasing by over 11% since 2015, compared to 6% for other closure types.

CGA also discovered that the distribution for wines sealed with a cork is also on the rise, growing at 48% since 2015 (compared with an increase of 10% for alternative closures), which, it has been said, suggests that there is a growing interest in offering wines closed with a cork.

Finally, the research noted that the value of cork-sealed wines has risen 17% last year, compared with a 9% increase for other closure types.

Considering the results in full, João Rui Ferreira, APCOR chairman said that choosing a wine sealed with a cork presents a commercial opportunity for UK restaurants.

“We already know there is a strong consumer preference for cork due to its association with quality wine,” he began, adding, “For the first time, these results clearly demonstrate the value this presents to licensees, who can trade customers up and benefit from higher profit margins.”

Meanwhile, Mark Newton, who is senior category manager at CGA, drew attention to a connection between a general move up market in drinks and cork-sealed wine.

“Overall, these figures suggest wines sealed with a cork may well be starting to show signs of ‘premiuminisation’ in terms of consumer and licensee behavior,” he said.

Continuing, he recorded, “This is a trend which for some time has been a cornerstone of the spirits sector, and is now being seen within overall movements in wine consumption at higher price bands across the category.”

This year’s APCOR investment in cork promotion covers a range of initiatives in the UK, including ‘The Grand Cork Experiment’, which saw a space in Soho transformed into a laboratory to test whether the pop of a cork had a more positive impact on the wine tasting experience than the click of a screwcap.

The study, which was carried out in July this year in partnership with professor Charles Spence of Oxford University’s crossmodal research lab, showed that wines bottled under cork are perceived to be 15% better quality than those closed with a screwcap.

In an interview with db earlier this year, Carlos de Jesus from Portuguese cork producer Amorim, praised APCOR’s approach for moving the closure debate away from purely performance-based comparisons, pointing out that cork’s premium image gives it an important competitive advantage.

“You see drinks companies spending millions to create something special at the time of consumption, but the wine industry has that embedded in the packaging, and we want to draw attention to the positive impact of wines sealed with cork,” he said.

Continuing, he urged db to consider “the cultural weight” that comes with the pop of a cork, which, he added, was a sound that “permeates western and eastern cultures”, while also being one that’s universally associated with “happiness”.

Concluding, he said, “We spend a lot of time discussing the negatives of cork, but not enough time discussing the positives, and unless we consider these too, we are not getting the full picture.”

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