Dec 30: Amorim has developed cost-efficient technology to remove detectable TCA from all its product lines at no extra cost from 1 January 2021, if one were to believe the recent Report in The Drinks Business, but it appears the date has been pushed back to 19 March 2021, writes Subhash Arora who has visited the world’s biggest cork producer a couple of times and meets Chairman Antonio Amorim at various platforms across the globe
Although Antonio Amorim, Chairman of the biggest cork producer from Portugal, has not divulged details of this development due to the competition in the closure sector, but Amorim has already developed and used “batch-based technology” to remove TCA. The new process is ready to be implemented and it won’t cost the customer any extra amount, according to The Drinks Business.
Unlike the company’s NDtech screening process, a quality control approach offering buyers of whole-piece natural corks with a ‘non-detectable TCA guarantee’, the latest process involves new TCA-removal technology that can be applied across the board, especially for single-piece cork stoppers. Amorim has named the technology as ‘Naturity’, since no artificial elements are used in the process.
Also Read : WineFuture 2021: A Virtual Zoom Conference on 23-25 February 2021
This is big news for the cork industry and the company which accounts for almost half the market for the natural stoppers, and 30% of the total production of all closures. It is slated to be launched officially on 1 January, 2021 although it has been ready to be rolled out for some time. Interestingly, there will be no additional costs due to this technological development. There is another small Portuguese company producing 600 million corks, which already implemented a similar process a few months ago. This has perhaps obliged Amorim to take a similar step.
The employment of Naturity follows a commitment made by Amorim 18 months ago. Earlier, it had developed a steam-cleaning process called ROSA for removing TCA in cork. It stripped the material of any potential wine spoilage bacteria, as well as NDtech – the pioneering screening system for single-piece stoppers, which tested each cork for TCA, and offered customers a ‘non-detectable TCA guarantee’.
However, this technology was reserved exclusively for top-ended corks as the screening technology was applied to each individual cork. It was a time-consuming process and could not be applied to all the 4 billion stoppers being produced in 2016 when I visited the factory last.
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TCA is a chemical compound (2,4,6-trichloroanisole) in the oak bark from which cork is produced. It tends to give the wine an off-putting, wet cardboard smell. Non-detectable TCA guarantee means that if there is any trace of TCA in the cork, it is below the human detection threshold of around 0.5 nanograms/liter. It can be detected by the human nose in 4 parts per trillion dilutions.
delWine contacted Carlos de Jesus, who looks after the corporate Communications and Marketing, and is also a fellow judge at Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. He says ‘the technology change would be effective-not from 1 January but on the 19 of March, 2021. DB had published the Report based on a talk last month with our President Antonio Amorim and decided to publish the Report this month. It is accurate but we’re not publishing the release until then.’
Interestingly, Amorim also bought last year a 50% share in Vinolok, the producer of glass and crystal closures with the Czech -based Preciosa Group retaining the balance 50% stake. This was to promote the easy-to-open, convenient glass stoppers designed for the premium and ultra-premium segments of the market. Antonio Amorim, had then said: “Cork and glass are two key components in the history of wine and spirits and this deal brings that historical partnership to an entirely new level.’
Also Read : TechTalk: Amorim launches Natural Corks with No- TCA Guarantee
According to Amorim, there are a total of 19.5 billion bottles that use a closure every year. Cork still forms a majority with 12.5 billion out of which Amorim has a share of 5.5 billion. Screw Caps are used on 5.1 billion bottles while the rest 1.9 billion use Plastic cork etc.
These figures are somewhat challenged by the Aluminium Closures Group which monitors the use of screw caps. Guido Aufdemkamp, the Executive Director of the Group claims that about 30 billion bottles of liquid are filled using some closure or stopper. The members of the Aluminium Closures Group already produce more than 6.5billion aluminium screw caps annually.
Also Read : Amorim: Uncorking the Portuguese Cork
It would be interesting to see if the claims by Amorim will motivate wine producers to shift back to corks as the preferred closures. We will find more on that subject as we approach the date indicated by Carlos de Jesus. Moreover, Antonio Amorim will be teamed up with Subhash Arora and another Speaker in one of the Zoom Presentations during the Wine Future 2021 to be held on February 23-25, 2021 where he would hopefully throw more light on the subject.
Stay tuned for the latest in this important segment of packaging.
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