The role of cork in Portugal

by alrou on July 19, 2014

Cork oak forest (Quercus suber) in Portugal

For many years, Quercus suber or cork oak as it is commonly known has been cultivated in Portugal for its thick and spongy bark. The cork oak ecosystem in this country has high biodiversity of plants and animals with evergreen trees which are covered by silvery lichen. These plants are well adapted to the hot and dry weather of southern Europe. Portugal is the world’s leading producer of cork, thus there are European programs put in place to protect the trees and help farmer’s plant new stands.

Role played by cork oak in Portugal:

Employment:

These trees provide a source of income to people who live in the nearby farmsteads and towns at the hilltop. There are many foresters who earn a living by stripping off the outer layer of the trees. In addition, there are about 500 factories in the country which offer employment to more than 20,000 workers. A typical family cork farm of about 1, 400 acres can produce 45 tons of the tree bark. This can be used as wine stoppers because of the unique properties such as;

- Resistant to rot

- Light in weight

- Impermeable to liquid and gas

- Termite resistant

- Resistant to fire

- It is soft and buoyant

Nutrition:

Acorns are fruits gotten from cork which have high nutritional value not only for humans but also birds, pigs and other mammals. Acorns from white oaks are low in tannin and high in proteins and carbohydrates. The nut fruits can be ingested in any of the following forms;

• Boil the whole fruit before eating

• Grind into flour then baked

• Roast and add in coffee drink

Harvesting the bark of a cork tree requires skill not to harm the tree

Trade:

Cork counts for about 16% of all Portuguese export trade. The evergreen plantations in Portugal bring in foreign exchange from tourists who travel all the way to see the cork oaks. Besides the production and export of cork stoppers with account to 70% of the value of the exports of cork, foreign exchange is also earned from the export of acorns and other cork products like cork message boards, printing paper, shoe soles, handles for fishing rods, cigarette tips, hat bands, table mats and cork tile flooring to foreign countries. The main consumer markets are;

• Germany

• United Kingdom

• United States of America

• Australia

• Brazil

• Canada and others

Land use

Growing and harvesting cork stands offers traditional and sustainable use of land in Portugal. There are many commercial and individual cork farms. The land also acts as a precious habitat for endangered species like Iberian imperial eagle and Iberian lynx. These animals are valued and protected in cork forests. The cork oaks provide use for land that would otherwise have not been as productive given the weather conditions in the area.

Cork bark used for wine stoppers

Conservation

Oaks play an important role of environmental conservation in Portugal. The forests are important in both conservation and economic development in the following ways;

• Preventing soil erosion

• Maintenance of watersheds

• Keeping the soils healthy

With all these roles played by cork, you might wish to visit southern Portugal and experience things first hand. Cork offers a good business opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Author Bio:

Mira Jasmin is an enthusiastic blogger from Manchester, UK. In her extra time, she composes articles on different subjects, for example, engineering, and contraptions, travel…etc. Starting now she is concentrating on Turkish visa , which is a non-legislative online application administration for getting an e-Visa to enter Turkey.

Photo Credits: Corticeira Amorim, the largest world producer of cork products

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33entrepreneurs’ EuropaTour is coming to Lisbon, all set to uncover the best startups in the wine, gastronomy and tourism sectors.

The pitch contest is going to place during the Lisbon Vinocamp, on July 5, 2014 and will include workshops during the day and a jury lead by Anne-Victoire Monrozier of Miss Vicky Wine and André Ribeirinho of Smart Wine Glass−winner of the first Europa Tour contest in Munich.

The team with the winning startup pitch, chosen on the day by the panel, will be awarded a free one week in Bordeaux, along with a contribution to travel costs. 33entrepreneurs will host the team and facilitate with press, mentors, and other startups with the goal of building networks, getting feedback and further developing concepts.

The EuropaTour contest has so far included six contests, 70 startups and an audience exceeding 1000. Vincent Preter, Founder and CEO of 33entrepreneurs, looks forward to fostering local Portuguese talent on the Europe wide startup contest tour.

Mentor Driven StartUp Accelerator from 33entrepreneurs on Vimeo.

BestinPortugal now presents an exclusive interview with Vincent Pretet, founder and CEO of 33entrepreneurs, a StartUp Accelerator for Wine, Gastronomy and Tourism Startups.

As the founder and CEO of 33entrepreneurs, which promotes the EuropaTour, a European wide Wine & Spirits StartUps’ Contest  to be held in Lisbon, along with six other European cities this year, how many attendees are you expecting for the event?
We have started our #Europatour in January this year(2014), with the purpose of discovering local talented and innovative teams where they are, in their local ecosystem. We crossed 5 countries in 5 months, put more than 60 StartUps on stage and gathered over 900 attendees.

For the Lisbon StartUp Contest, partnering with Vinocamp, we expect between 100 to 150 attendees and a handful of local StartUps. We are pleased to meet key players from the Portuguese tech scene with representatives from Building Global Innovators (MIT related, university-based venture competition in Portugal), Lisbon Challenge (a 3-month acceleration program for international entrepreneurs), local business schools and investors.

Was there any particular reason for including Lisbon among the seven chosen cities to promote the EuropaTour contest  in 2014 or you just felt that Portugal’s Capital would be receptive to Entrepreneurial events like this one?
Our #Europatour started in January. We want to go to every country in Europe and beyond. In 2014, we have selected some first major cities, including Porto, where we think the conditions are at best to gather entrepreneurs around wine topics. And Porto Wines are very famous, namely in France where we do drink a lot of those great wines at summer time.

In what areas of expertise do you believe Portuguese Entrepreneurs qualify in showing their know-how? In what areas could they fill in the gaps in the European Market?
Portuguese people are entrepreneurs by history. They have a legacy to cross oceans and discover new worlds. We like this mindset and are thrilled to soon come to Lisbon to shake hands and help entrepreneurs get to the next level. Our purpose is really to identify the most promising teams, betting on innovation, to disrupt the wine industry, with world ambition.

Regarding 33entrepreneurs’ brand name, besides being the number of the Department of Gironde in France, where the Bordeaux wine region is located, 33 in numerology is the Master number for movers and shakers. Was this number contained in your brand name a carefully thought choice or was this just an added bonus?
Yes, 33 stands for many things. As you mentioned, it reminds us on where we are from : 33 is the number for Gironde ; it is also the international dial code for France. And our logo is a French Rooster.

Why all that emphasis on France? We are the first venture capital company in the world to invest into Tech StartUps in the wine, gastronomy and tourism sectors. In those sectors, the French industry is on the leading edge worldwide and, there, we want to play to our strengths, helping entrepreneurs from all over the world to make it through investment and mentoring.

Is mixing wine lovers, entrepreneurs and IT geeks a good combination? Do these very different “grapes” result in a “Grand Cru”?
Innovation and entrepreneurship are born from passion. We think such a mixing of wine lovers and entrepreneurs is a good combination to drive the creative mindset needed to build value creating StartUp that may one day disrupt the wine industry.

To assemble the best possible wine, through our #Europatour StartUp Contest we do harvest in many different cities. For sure, the blended grapes will have a positive outcome.

What are the necessary conditions to participate in the Startup Contest?
We have 5 straightforward criteria :

  • Team made of 2 founders at least
  • Tech inside
  • Scalable project
  • Openness to mentorship
  • Willingness to come and work with us in Bordeaux, France

What can the qualified winner of the startup pitch contest expect in terms of incentives to expand his/her business? How will 33entrepreneurs help this startup?
The Winner of our StartUp Contest has many benefits. First, the winner gets press exposure during and after the contest. Then, the winning team works with us one week full time in Bordeaux, meeting relevant industry leaders, being challenged by our mentors and seeing other StartUps from the Bordeaux ecosystem. At the end of the week they also might be offered a place into our StartUp Acceleration Programme.

Have you already tried Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts), Portugal’s most popular pastry specialty? If you did, what would be your wine of choice to have when savoring  Pastéis de Nata?
I came something like 12 years ago in Portugal, for a full summer. We walked down the Douro river, till the ocean. We had some great times but I am not sure I have eaten those Pastéis de Nata. Would love to taste them in Lisbon with some great wines of your suggestion ! We really like authentic experiences and are pleased to discover local habits the way people live. Tell us what’s your favourite wine to go with Pastéis and will share your experience.

A side note from BestinPortugal: Instead of the normal cup of coffee with the delicious Pastéis de Nata, you should try them with a Moscatel, Madeira or a Tawny Port wine.

Any final thoughts for people who want to attend the Startups Contest in Lisbon?
We believe everyone has to play to their strengths to make an impact. We call this the entrepreneurial mindset. We think entrepreneurs are great people who shape our society. They identify opportunities. They dedicate their time and energy to grow companies, creating jobs and delivering value.

We would be thrilled to meet many entrepreneurs in Lisbon and honoured if some of them would like to join us as fellow startUps, mentors or investors.
#PlayToYourStrengths

To know more about the EuropaTour StartUp Contest, visit this page and also the Facebook page of 33entrepreneurs.

Photo & Video credits:  33entrepreneurs.co

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