Products - Certification
Responsibility for the product, people and nature
The certification of processes and systems is an added guarantee of the safety of cork stoppers. In this regard, Amorim is a prime example. It was the first packaging company in the world to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and contributes like no other to strengthening the concept of responsible forest management. The good practices are also officially recognised in regard to advances against TCA, the management of quality, food safety and the environment.
Natural cork stoppers, technical stoppers, agglomerated stoppers, capsulated stoppers and champagne stoppers. In all Amorim ranges, it is possible to find the FSC® chain of custody registered trademark, which certifies a credible link between production and the responsible consumption of forest products. What first began with a single piece of natural cork today encompasses a wide range of options and additional guarantees - particularly for winemakers who wish to seal their wines with cork from forests managed in accordance with this strict international standard. All the cork stoppers with FSC® certification bear the stamp which confirms that they are from a certified forest and guarantees that Amorim develops its business through responsible practices which benefit people and protect the environment, along the whole production chain.
Environmental and forest certification is at the top of the list of the most important sustainability measures for Amorim clients, in accordance with a survey carried out in 2011. The valuation of this factor is the motivation to continue to include certification in the framework of strategic options and, as a result, an incentive for continuous improvement.
Amorim was a pioneer in obtaining the first FSC® chain of custody certificates in the cork industry in 2010 and, anticipating the needs of the wine industry, it was the first company in the world to obtain this certification in regard to packaging. Today, it remains committed to producing the highest volume possible of stoppers in accordance with FSC® standards, while it maintains the goal to increase the number of certified units on the horizon. The Amorim universe currently has 30 units certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and dozens of cork stopper production and distribution companies all over the world with ISO certification, in accordance with the various standards, in addition to those in regard to the compliance with the International Code of Cork Stopper Manufacturing Practice (ICCSMP), which include all cork stoppers marketed.
«Cork oak woodlands provide employment and guarantee the survival of local communities. More than 100.000 people in the seven Mediterranean cork-producing countries depend directly and indirectly on cork economies.»
WWF, in Cork Screwed?
Environmental and economic impacts of the cork stopper
Quality and safety assurance
In regard to the quality of the cork stoppers, SYSTECODE certification ensures compliance with the ICCSMP. This official accreditation began with an initiative by CE Liège, as a guarantee that companies which produce cork stoppers comply with the most effective preventive practices against the contamination of the cork by micro-organisms responsible for undesirable flavours in the wine. SYSTECODE certification is supported by annual audits carried out by the international body Bureau Veritas and takes into account the most recent discoveries and technological advances. For the industry, it is one of the most important modernisation factors, because it involves adhering to the most advanced production techniques, requires extensive knowledge of the materials and the full compliance of environmental, occupational hygiene and safety rules. For winemakers, it is the guarantee that they are buying cork with a minimum risk of TCA contamination.
Since the cork stoppers are in direct contact with a food product - the wine - the compliance of strict hygiene practices to prevent contamination during production is a constant concern. Amorim's effort has been recognised through accreditation in matters such as Quality Management Systems (ISO 9001), Environmental Management Systems (ISO 14001), Food Safety Management Systems (ISO 22000) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point).
ISO standards are awarded by the Portuguese Certification Association (APCER) and recognise companies which adopt high standards of food conformity with visible results in the elimination or reduction of health risks for consumers.
Amorim assesses the impact on health and safety in the design, research and development stages of the product in accordance with the ISO 22000 procedures implemented. In the storage, distribution and supply stage of the products, this assessment is assured in the four Portuguese industrial units with the cork stopper finishing operation and ISO 22000 certification. Once dispatched abroad, they are subject to finishing operations in the companies of the group in the destination countries, which in most cases also have ISO 22000 certification or HACCP.
HACCP methodology is a complex preventive system of analysis which guarantees the chemical and micro-biological hygiene and safety of food. Its application in the wine production sector is compulsory and it contributes to increasing the degree of hygiene during the bottling process.
The stamp that brings value to the wine
Certified products are increasingly valued in the world market, particularly those which demonstrate environmental responsibility. In this respect, the most important guarantee is international FSC® accreditation, because it adds value to the product and enables consumers to make an informed choice during the purchase. In this context, certification not only ensures competitiveness, but it is a key element to success.
In the United Kingdom, the Sainsbury's and Co-operative supermarket chains were the first to understand its importance in the context of wine production. They redefined their strategies in order to increase the number of products with FSC® certification and committed themselves to the use of more sustainable packaging. Therefore, despite already using cork stoppers in their own-brand wines, they chose to change to stoppers with FSC certification.
In the particular case of Sainsbury’s, the second largest supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, since 2010 it has only used stoppers certified by the FSC®, which makes it one of the largest users of certified cork in the world, with over six million units.
It is currently easier to opt for FSC® stoppers. As opposed to what used to happen a few years ago, this certification is no longer exclusive to top-of-the-range stoppers. Today, the market can also easily find technical and champagne stoppers with FSC® certification, which increases the possibilities for producers and distributors to add extra value to their wine, by using certified natural closures.
More certification, better practices
Amorim has been one of the main driving forces of FSC® forest management certification systems, despite not being a forest owner. In 2006 it was part of the honour committee for the official launch of the FSC® certification system in Portugal, where there is the largest area of cork oak forests in the world. Since then it has taken on an important role in raising the awareness of forest producers to the use of FSC® principles and criteria for the sustainable management of cork oak forests. The certification of Forest Management Systems involves the compliance of good practices which shall contribute to the creation of greater economic value for forest producers and simultaneously reduce negative environmental impact.
The company awards an annual prize for good forest management practices and despite certification not being one of the competition's criteria, it has been seen that the properties which opt for this course of action tend to demonstrate better practices in the sustainable management of the cork oak and associated biodiversity. In this sense, the prizes awarded have been to certified properties, which comply with FSC® principles and criteria for responsible forest management.
«Where we use cork, it is important to us to make sure that the harvesting of that cork makes a positive contribution to the wildlife in the area, while at the same time managing traceability, consistency and quality to ensure our wines taste their best.»