MA Silva’s new €3.5m facility to increase production by 50%

MA Silva’s new €3.5 million facility will its cork production capacity from 100 million to 150 million, the cork producer told the drinks business yesterday.

The new €3.5m site was opened in July this year.

The new site, dedicated to the production of Champagne and technical corks, was opened on 20 July this year by Emídio Sousa, the mayor of Santa Maria da Feira.

It was constructed at a cost of €3.5 million and has created a total of 35 new jobs in the local area of Mozelos.

Speaking to the drinks business about the main reason behind the decision to invest in new facilities, Nuno Silva, marketing and inside sales at MA Silva, said: “The main reason was to increase our overall growth and to develop the state-of-the-art technology that we already had”.

“The new space has given us the chance to use brand new equipment and to improve our capacity. This is in response to the market demand for our corks”.

The facilities, occupying 6,000 square metres, will increase production from 100 million corks to 150 million per year with “room to keep expanding within the facility by adding new equipment”.

MA Silva has a number of patented processes that it uses to ensure “quality” and “traceability on all products” including Dynavox, a cork washing process that helps to remove TCA through boiling, and Sara granulate sterilisation which uses controlled steam and pressure to expel the TCA and other volatile compounds from the cork granules.

A close up of an electronic grading machine for champagne discs and assembled champagne corks

Last year the company launched One by One for ultra-premium wines, offering suppliers the assurance of 100% TCA-free corks.

Each cork is individually tested for TCA to “un-detectable” levels of 0.5ng/l, eliminating bad corks from the supply chain using gas spectroscopy. The technology was launched after three years of research.

When asked about market demand, José Remoaldo, MA Silva’s global sales director, said that the company’s traditional markets are France, Italy, Germany and Spain, but more recently demand is coming from the USA, Australia, Brazil and the UK.

While stating that the company was primarily targeting “Italy and France,” Remoaldo said there was “room to grow everywhere”. He said that Australia was experiencing a “big growth” and was “expanding” due to Chinese demand for its wine, a market that has always favoured the use of a cork. 

Miguel Cardozo, MA Silva’s global business director, told the drinks business that he hoped the new facilities would help the company to be perceived as a “premium producer of quality products”.

He also said the decision had been made in response to market trends, stating that there was a “big trend” for people coming back to cork and that there is now “major consumer acceptance based on value perception”.

He cited a study undertaken by the University of Oxford that found that cork was perceived to be 15% better than screwcap. Participants were asked to taste and rate a wine after being played the sound of a cork popping, then after having heard a screwcap being opened. The study was funded by The Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) of which MA Silva is a member.

Asked about the study, Cardozo said that it was “basically something we already knew” but that they hadn’t thought about it in that way before.

Concluding, Cardozo said it was important “to push value perception” and respond to consumer demand for reliable and quality-driven corks.

“The cork industry in 2017 has reached its highest ever peak,” he said. “The industry is very strong despite the competition and challenges. Cork is very much the leader – 65% of the world’s wines are now bottled under cork and this figure is increasing”.

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