HISTORY OF CORK
Things you didn't know about cork...
Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and, just how big is
the cork business? Cork stoppers were found in tombs
from ancient Egypt, tombs dating back thousands of years!
On the ancient Mediterranean Sea cork was used to make buoys
to float fishing nets. During the same time people also made
sandals out of the naturally shock absorbing material.
Stoppers and corks for wine and olive oil containers were
common place in olden days - in fact, it was the ancient Greeks
who discovered when cork was stripped from the tree, a new
sheath of better quality quickly formed. The Romans, put cork
to a wide range of uses. They recommended making beehives
out of cork, because of its low heat conduction. The Romans
employed corkwood planks in the construction of their
homes, a tradition to today in North Africa. The
people of this mighty empire referred to cork being used to
float anchor ropes and fishing nets, to seal vessels and to
produce women’s shoes for the winter. Fishermen also used
cork to fashion life jackets - even way back when,
people appreciated the versatility of cork.
See the Story of Cork,
A Green Product
Cork is the outer bark of an evergreen oak known by the
Latin name Quercus (oak) Suber (cork). The
first stripping occurs when the tree is between 15 and 20
years of age. Subsequent yields follow at 8 to 10 year intervals.
Today, the center of the world's cork oak forest is concentrated in Southern Europe; Portugal, Spain, Italy
& France, which accounts for 67% of the cork oak production.
North Africa has the remaining 33%. The total land surface
occupied by this oak is 2.2 million hectares (5.434 million
acres!) of which Portugal and Spain represent 56%.
The industry employs more than 15,000 workers
in factories and commercial departments! In addition,
the industry has 10,000 seasonal workers for the cork harvest
and the maintenance of the oak forests. The sale of cork and
cork products by producers, to the European and United States
market, exceeds $1.5 Billion U.S. Dollars annually.
Of this value, the cork stopper is $1.1 Billion U.S. Dollars,
while the sale of agglomerated cork, cork flooring, and other
related products is $400 million U.S. Dollars.