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Cork: Culture, Nature, Future

APCOR has promoted, supported and implemented various programmes to enhance the development of Portuguese cork industry in various areas of expertise. APCOR invests heavily in communication and information campaigns to promote cork on the foreign markets, in Europe, Asia, North America, and Oceania.

In the past fifteen years, APCOR has invested 41.3 million euros across six communication campaigns involving twenty countries. In 2000, it started a campaign targeted exclusively at the UK market – Cork 2000, before branching into other markets. The promotion of cork bottle stoppers was the first focus, but this was soon extended to construction materials, decoration and design, made from the cork oak bark. It set up press offices to give information about cork, and launched advertising campaigns. Cork gained a position of prominence in the social networks, and marked its presence at major international trade fairs in the areas of wine and interior decor; it organized seminars and workshops, and promoted visits to Portugal by leaders and journalists from all over the world. Alongside this, APCOR developed programmes to give direct support to businesses and industry.

In one of the communication campaigns, Portuguese football coach Jose Mourinho was the face of the cork promotion campaign in the United Kingdom. Renowned Italian chef Carlo Cracco, Brazilian wine critic Carlos Cabral, and German presenter Eva Brenner became ambassadors of cork, communicating to the world the potential and uses of this 100% natural material.

Communication Projects

InterCork II – International Promotion of Cork

The aims of this programme were to maintain, recover and increase the share of cork bottle stoppers in the traditional markets, win new bottle stopper markets, and increase the share of construction and decoration materials. InterCork II reached Germany, Spain, the United States, Canada, France, Italy and China (markets where it still operates today) and the United Kingdom and Scandinavia (new markets).

“Cork: Culture, Nature and Future” were key message, presenting cork as a natural, ecological, environmentally friendly material, with proven data in terms of quality and performance in various products, such as a material for design and innovation.

The campaign focused on consumers and opinion leaders. The first continue to be the greatest allies of cork. The second are the main influencers of wine cellars, supermarkets and consumers.

It was an investment of 7.3 million euros, 80% of which was financed by Compete (Thematic Factors of Competitiveness Operational Programme) and 20% by members of APCOR and counterpart associations in various countries.

For more information, access the websites and social networks in the various markets.

Intercork I – International Promotion of Cork

This was the biggest communication programme run by APCOR, whether in terms of financial investment or in terms of the number of countries reached and the goals set. The programme promoted cork bottle stoppers and construction and decoration materials. It presented cork as a modern and elegant natural product, associated with the idea of eco-design, with unique technical and sensory characteristics. Cork is linked to the tradition and image of wine making. The comfort, aesthetics and quality of the product were the messages transmitted.

France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States were the countries chosen to promote cork bottle stoppers. The United States, Canada, Germany, Russia, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands, China and the United Arab Emirates were chosen to promote construction, decoration and design materials.

An investment of 21 million euros, 80% with the support of Compete (Thematic Factors of Competitiveness Operational Programme) and 20% by members of APCOR and counterpart associations in various countries.

International Cork Campaign Programme (CIC)

The purpose of the CIC was to promote the cork bottle stopper, in response to the threat posed by synthetic seals and screw cap bottle tops. APCOR assumed responsibility for implementing the campaign, in partnership with AICEP, in the scope of the Incentive Programme for the Modernization of the Economy (PRIME).

The CIC had three phases of implementation. CIC I took place from 2001 to 2003, in 10 countries (United States, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, South Africa, Chile and Argentina). CIC II was rolled out from September 2005 and September 2006 in three markets (United Kingdom, United States and Australia). CIC III took place in France and Germany, from November 2007 to March 2008.

Projects to support businesses in the sector

Subervin

The project, which ended in June 2015, promoted various actions to achieve excellence in the entire cork chain, one of the key customers of the wine industry. It provided wine producers with useful and objective information about the benefits of using cork. Another purpose of this programme was to promote the sustainability of cork oak montado, as a habitat in need of preservation. The campaign was targeted at logging companies and cork processors, wine specialists and consumers, associations of restaurateurs, hoteliers and sommeliers, and Oenology students.

More information at www.subervin.eu.

CorkAction Programme

The main goal of this two-month programme was to strengthen the competitiveness of the Portuguese cork industry. The front line was to modernise the industry, through changes in the organizational culture of companies, in order to contribute to the development of this key sector of the Portuguese economy.

CorkAction started with an integrated plan, based on the areas that were considered lacking, but were essential for strengthening the competencies of the cork industry, bringing new methods, tools and objectives to the industry capable of promoting action-oriented and forward-looking innovation, investment and capacity. Companies’ activities were thus facilitated with new knowledge, new practices, new experiences, and new approaches to development, properly tested and validated during the course of the program.

The programme included direct support for companies in various sectors, and resulted in the publication of the CorkAction Operational Manual and the book Contaminação do Vinho por Haloanisóis: Desenvolvimento de Estratégias Biotecnológicas para Prevenir a Contaminação de Rolhas de Cortiça por Cloroanisóis (Contamination of Wine by Haloanisoles: Development of Biotechnological Strategies to Prevent Contamination of Cork Bottle Stoppers by Chloroanisols) (media available for searching at the APCOR Library).

the CorkAction programme involved investments of around two million euros – 75% from EC funds, as part of the PRIME support measures, and 25% from private funds.

SME Training Program

The SME Training programme is a training-action programme that seeks to contribute to reinforcing the human resources competencies and improving the management processes of micro, small and medium companies, through the intervention of a group of experienced consultants and company incorporators. Other goals of the project were to promote and strengthen the competitive advantages of SME, the growth of their business, and the implementation of good practices.

The programme operates within a network logic, implemented by the Portuguese Business Association, as the management entity, and by a group of partner entities, the majority industrial and commercial associations, who implemented the programme with welfare entities and small and very small companies (less than 100 employees). In the case of the cork sector, APCOR acts as promoter and catalyst of companies (beneficiary entity), and is responsible for executing the programme in the respective region or area of speciality.

This programme, funded by the Programa Operacional Potencial Humano (Human Potential Operational Programme)- POPH, has been repeated over time, and includes around twenty-five companies per edition, mainly in the north and centre of the country. The SME Training programme is open to companies with 100 employees or less, and whose managers and employees are motivated and available to participate in a process of development of their individual skills, and of the organization as a whole.

From 2003 to 2015, APCOR facilitated interventions in 207 companies.

Evolução do Nº. de empresas intervencionadas pela APCOR no Projeto FPME, por edição
Evolução do Nº. de empresas intervencionadas pela APCOR no Projeto FPME, por ediçãoFonte: APCOR e AEP, 2015

So far, we have worked with 207 companies, involving 4000 trainees, with an average of 36,000 hours of training given, and 32,800 hours of consulting. The interventions have resulted in an increase in the volume of sales (in some cases), improvements in the organization of the companies, better communication with customers, and improvements in the performance and motivation of employees, as well as improving the company’s image and decreasing accidents at work.

The participating companies (recipient companies) benefited from:

.Support for the diagnosis of management and preparation of a development plan;

.Support in the implementation of development measures;

.Individualized Consultancy at the company;

.Tailor-made training for managers and employees to be carried out in the company (may count towards fulfilment of the statutory requirement to complete at least 35 hours of certified training per employee per year. Where appropriate, the employees are referred to qualification centres – CNOs or others that are created within the scope of this programme – where they can receive double school/professional certification);

.Support for the implementation of systems of Quality, Health, Hygiene and Safety at Work, among others.

The companies’ opinion

The companies that participated in the SME Training programme highlighted several factors of this training-action that enable small and medium-sized enterprises to benefit, without cost, from the training support that is crucial for problem solving and recognizing new opportunities for their continued growth and development. The companies emphasized:

  • their satisfaction at obtaining diagnoses, and measurement plans in which they can review their companies, and that form the basis of strategic decision-making.
  • the opportunity to share experiences with other entrepreneurs in the cork industry, which enabled them to broaden their horizons,
  • the appropriateness of the training for the labour needs of the companies, by sector and target audience;
  • the learning and recycling of knowledge in several areas that are crucial to the development of SMEs, such as Human Resources, Economic and Financial Development, Production Management, Strategic Management in SMEs, and Commercial aspects, among others;
  • the opportunity to increase the qualification of human resources.
Recycle Programme

The Recycle (Reciclar) programme had an ambitious goal: to find a way to reuse the wastewater from the cork industry for application in the tanning industry. Recycle was based on the promotion of cork waste, transforming it into a by-product with potential application in the leather tanning sector, thereby promoting ecoefficiency in the cork sector, through the development and optimisation of a system for the treatment of wastewater resulting from cork boiling, without generating sludge, and helping the industry to comply with environmental legislation.

The programme was developed in two stages, aimed at the development of a nanofiltration technology that enables the tannins to be removed from the cork boiling wastewater, with environmental treatment of this effluent, defining the chemical and organic modifications necessary for the concentrate obtained through nanofiltration to be applied in the tanning sector, as well as optimised operation parameters in industrial tanning processes, making use of cork tannins and, finally, obtaining innovative leather products based on processing with cork tannins.

The Recycle Programme was developed in a partnership between APCOR and the Portuguese Association of Industrial Tanneries (APIC), together with the respective technological centres – the Cork Technology Centre, the Technological Centre for the Leather Industries, the National Institute of Engineering and Industrial Technology, and the Institute of Experimental Biology and Technology.

The Recycle Programme is funded based on a model of public-private model, with the ICEP and the Instituto de Apoio às Pequenas e Médias Empresas e ao Investimento (Support Institute for Small and Medium Companies and Investment) – IAPMEI representing the public participation, and APCOR and the APIC representing the private sector.

Corchiça Programme

The aim of the Corchiça Programme – Cooperation Strategy between Cork Companies for the Territorial Development of Alentejo Spanish Extremadura – was to improve the competitiveness of the cork industry, creating mechanisms for support for planning, cooperation and business management. This programme was the result of a partnership between APCOR and the neighbouring Spanish Agrupación Sanvicenteña de Empresários del Corcho (ASECOR).

Besides APCOR and ASECOR, the programme was also promoted by the Ayuntamento de San Vicente de Alcântara and the municipal authorities of Alter do Chão, Gavião, Ponte de Sôr and Portalegre.

Certifica + Project

The main goal of the Certifica + Project was to promote and facilitate forest certification, both at the level of forest management and chain of custody, developed in partnership with the Association for the Competitiveness of Industry in the Forestry Sector (AIFF), APCOR, Paper Industry Association (Celpa) and Association for the Promotion of Pine Forest (Centro Pinus).

Through this project, it aims to create conditions that encourage companies to adhere to these processes and facilitate the implementation and maintenance of the certificates, ensuring that all the links in the chain, from production to industry, are certificated and aware of the importance of this subject. Essentially, it seeks to help overcome the difficulties associated with compiling vast amount of public information that is currently dispersed among several entities, and that is required for compliance with the regulatory requirements of the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council®) and the PEFC (programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification©).

Certifica + is an integrated project with capital gains for the entire value chain, from the forest to the industry to the final consumer and society as a whole, defending the principles of environmental, social and economic sustainability.

Various actions were carried out to raise awareness – seminars, workshops, and participation in trade fairs -, highlighting the platform for the provision of information to support the certification of forest management, accessible at www.certificamais.pt, and various support manuals (FSC® Manual of the Forest Management System and Manual of Certification of Custody/PEFC© Chain of Responsibility for the three sectors – cork, pulp and paper, and wood).

EcoEmpresas Programme

The aim of this programme was to help companies become more ecoefficient, through a series of integrated consultancy, training, communication and information actions that contribute to the development of businesses, as a driving force for the development of local economies, for environmental protection, and to improve the quality of life of citizens. The initiative, in which APCOR took part, had three cycles of activity, providing 105 hours of specialised multidisciplinary support to each company.

EcoEmpresas was set up to help companies become ecoefficient, through a series of actions in various regions of the country. The first included 75 companies in the Entre Douro e Vouga (EDV) region, seeking to transform the region into a European reference for business ecoefficiency, boosting international recognition and increasing the competitiveness of industries, through the adoption of environmental and socially responsible practices. The companies identified problem areas, in terms of energy, environmental or organizational performance. The goals were to integrate best practices and provide companies with mechanisms and qualified resources to ensure the continuous improvement of the organization’s performance.

The cork industry thus gained a new opportunity to improve its performance in an area already benefited from APCOR’s CorkAction programme, and that saw energy as one of the key areas for increasing the competitiveness of the sector. An ecoefficient company will have considerable gains when it comes to reducing the costs of energy consumption and waste management in the internal organization, promoting the image to the market, and establishing lasting partnerships.

The first intervention, in the EDV region, resulted in a joint partnership between the local authorities, businesses, and industrial associations, with a common goal; identifying itself as a key factor for the success of the initiative. These entities included the Conselho Empresarial do Entre Douro e Vouga (Business Council of Entre Douro e Vouga), Centro Tecnológico do Calçado (Footwear Technology Centre) , EDV Energia, Escola Superior Aveiro Norte da Universidade de Aveiro, the Associação Comercial e Industrial do Vale do Cambra (Commercial and Industrial Association of Vale do Cambra), the Associação Empresarial do Concelho de Oliveira de Azeméis (Business Association of the Council of Oliveira de Azeméis), the Associação Empresarial de Santa Maria da Feira (Business Association of Santa Maria da Feira), the Associação Empresarial do Concelho de Arouca (Business Association of the Council of Arouca), and the Instituto do Ambiente e Desenvolvimento (Institute for the Environment and Development).

Building Materials Industry Programme

The main objective of this programme was to develop and strengthen the image of cork as a building material. Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Angola, Canada, Morocco and Russia were the preferential markets. Some of its goals were to promote the strengthening of the international competitiveness of the industry, in order to improve the image of the national offer, of Portuguese brands, and of the country, and to stimulate new business opportunities.

The programme included the most representative industry associations: APCOR , Associação dos Industriais Metalúrgicos, Metalomecânicos e Afins de Portugal (AIMMAP) (Portuguese Association of Metallurgical, Metal-mechanic and Related Areas), Associação das Industrias de Madeira e Mobiliário de Portugal (AIMMP) (Portuguese Association of Wood and Furniture Industries), the Associação Portuguesa da Indústria de Cerâmica (APICER) (Portuguese Ceramics Industry Association) and the Associação Portuguesa dos Industriais de Mármore, Granito e Ramos Afins (ASSIMAGRA) (Portuguese assocaition of Marble, Granite and Related Industries). This working group was also reinforced by ICEP Portugal there by assuming a public-private partnership model.

Three supports were used in the scope of this project: A Cortiça como Material de Construção – Manual Técnico (Cork as a Construction Material – Technical Manual) (versions in Portuguese , English and German), Brochura Prestígio Materiais de Construção (version in Portuguese/English and English/French) and the Catálogo Materiais de Construção (with contacts of companies).

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