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Thread: Cork shortage?
07-22-2012, 05:49 PM #1
There were some discussion about using 100% natural cork vs. synthetic in the head of a shuttlecock, and one of the reasons given is there is a cork shortage and price increase as a result. To find out, I dug up some information from the net.
A cork farm owner was interviewed last year about whether there is a global cork shortage, and his answer is there is no truth to that, since harvesting cork, which is from the bark of cork oak, is fully sustainable, and there is no drop in production.
Portugal supplied 75% of all the cork in the world, and 70% of corks are used for bottle stoppers. In other words, shuttles are not the major use for cork. Since the trend is to use non-cork material for bottle stoppers to reduce cost, the Portuguese government has sponsored a "100% cork" campaign in recent years to protect the billion dollar industry in Portugal. Hmm, there is no need to do that if cork is in short supply or demand jumps, and cork price skyrockets, right? Or maybe the campaign is too successful? Here is the Time magazine article where the info comes from.
What's the cost of cork? In 2011, bottle stoppers made from natural cork costs $0.28 each, while those made from lower-grade 1+1 conglomerate
corks and powdered corks cost 8￠
As a crude estimate, the cork needed to make a shuttle is not significantly different from that for a bottle stopper, so my estimate is the cost can't be substantially more. For the sake of argument, let's assume the cost of cork has doubled in recent years, that would only increase the cost of each shuttle by 28 cents, or less than $3.5 per tube. This is a very conservative estimate, in my opinion. So even if the cost of cork has jumped, the price increase per tube should be less than $4 per tube.
07-23-2012, 02:09 AM #2
sigh... can the cost of shuttles ever go down...
its relatively a minor sport that is one of the most expensive
friggin bball only requires a ball and a basket lol
07-23-2012, 08:18 AM #3
Why is it hard to believe that there is a cork shortage?
Worldwide wine consumption is up. Worldwide badminton shuttle consumption is up. Portugal is only a small country.
These trees grow in pretty dry areas where growth is pretty slow. You can only take so much cork off a tree per year without killing it. So we have increased demand on a product that only has limited room for expansion from it's traditional source.
That isn't to say increased production is not possible. Only that we shouldn't be surprised at the cost going up. I would certainly love to see recycling, if possible (as was raised in another thread). Interesting topic.
07-23-2012, 02:49 PM #4
Wine bottles can use screwtop, non-cork material. The major reason that wine bottlers haven't abandoned cork is psychological: market perception is that good wines have cork tops. There are also unsubstantiated claims that wine can only age in a cork bottle, but there is no scientific proof of that to date.
So badminton lovers only need to convince drinkers to buy non-corked wine, and there will be an oversupply of cork in the future, and lower cost of shuttles :-)
07-24-2012, 11:44 AM #5
I found an analytical article by a Portuguese association on Cork production, consumption and prices.
It is a statistics based article which gives lots of facts and numbers.
07-24-2012, 11:59 AM #6
I would think climate that year has more to do with cork shortages. Even with an increase in wine consumption, you are usually consuming bottles that have been aged at least 1 year. I would think weather and natural disasters that affect current wine production would impact cork pricing more than consumer consumption.
07-24-2012, 12:21 PM #7
or we can assume that it is not the price of cork that increase maybe it is because price of oil increase
if portugal supplies 75% of cork in the world, that means the cork must be imported
let's say the shuttlecock makers are primarily in Asia (China, Indonesia, Taiwan, etc)
it would be really expensive to send these corks (light weight but takes a lot of space) to these countries (aeroplane has limited space while ships are really slow)
price of the corks increase, price of shipping fee increase thus many shuttlecock makers opted to use half organic cork and half synthetic rubber (or they could opted to increase the price)
07-24-2012, 12:55 PM #8
I agree more with your conclusion. Material cost probably hasn't changed much but maybe logistics and other overhead costs (electricity, water, labor, etc) has gone up. That and shipping the shuttles out of China to destination country probably has gone up as well.
You gotta make a buck somewhere!
07-25-2012, 03:06 AM #9
Was wondering if there's shortages (of trees or land area), can they plant more of these trees elsewhere? outside Europe? That would probably clear the shortage issue (but i don't know bout cost though).
07-25-2012, 03:52 AM #10
Then you have to think about the climate and environment that these trees have to grow in which may yield good or bad quality cork; even worse, they don't grow at all.
Correct me if I'm wrong because I'm not an expert at this.
07-25-2012, 05:14 AM #11
I've never planted any kind of trees but i think you have the point as well. I hope it won't be that difficult to find environment similar to Portugal in this world. In a way, its good for (Portuguese) cork company to expand their business (and help their economy?) elsewhere if there's real shortage.
07-25-2012, 05:35 AM #12
If you look online at pictures of cork oak trees after the cork is harvested they look like they lost their pants
Seems like you can only harvest the cork once every 10 years per tree (without killing it)!
07-25-2012, 02:20 PM #13
Wine in a box!!! That's 4 bottles of wine in just one convenient box. No corks too!!!!!
07-25-2012, 11:45 PM #14
08-14-2012, 04:16 AM #15
You are encourage to use cork
Well, according to the link below,
http://heartsong.typepad.com/goodearth/food_and_drink/ (click on you tube link) you are very much encourage buy wine with natural cork, in fact there is not enough demand for cork, so it's agreeable that transport cost take a bigger slice than the price of cork.
08-21-2012, 01:40 PM #16
or maybe it's just the demand for shuttles increased, so the factories in China can't keep their production up with the demands?
02-02-2014, 07:05 PM #17
Being a late convert to feather, I cannot help feel guilty about the horrible waste of tossing used birds in the rubbish bin. There isn't much hope for damaged feathers, but what about the cork?
Here is an interesting site that claims it can take wine corks and recycle them.
The Canadian edition apparently makes soles for shoes with the cork.
Do BC'ers have information on any other such programs around the world?
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