Corks & Packaging
Scott Laboratories can trace its involvement with wine yeast all the way back to 1933. Our involvement with cork is more recent (1978). In 2010 we are the senior North American vendor of cork closures. When we began in this business all of our competitors were independent, locally based companies.
After thirty years each of those companies has disappeared and been replaced by new companies that are tied to European cork houses. The independence is gone except for at Scott Laboratories. We think this is unfortunate. Independence works in favor of the cork consumer and is the best way to assure quality and value are optimized.
All the major cork houses in Europe which ship to North America source corks punched from their own production plus the production of others. Despite claims to the contrary, we know of no company which can claim true vertical integration. No one owns or controls enough forest. No one has sufficient in-house capacities for each stage of production.
Further, cork stoppers are a little like wine. Once the grapes are crushed and fermented, the winemaker has product that must be sold. Once a cork is punched, the cork manufacturer faces a similar reality. Quality may vary but a buyer must still be found.
Our independence helps us to control the situation for the benefit of the cork consumer. Scott sources its corks directly from medium sized firms in Portugal. These are firms that punch corks from wood they have purchased directly from the forest or from preparadores. Though these firms are not "small" (30+ employees is normal), their production is insufficient for them to export directly.
Scott's buying arm in Portugal is VERY selective. Every lot from every supplier is kept separate in Portugal. Discrete lots remain discrete. Incoming lots are NEVER re-washed or blended. Traceability is maximized. Quality controls (including SPME testing for TCA) are done on every lot. We know of no other operation like our Portuguese facility. Further, because we do not buy raw wood or punch it, we are never in the position of owning or needing to sell corks we do not want.
Being independent shows its value again after the stoppers are shipped. Though our Portuguese facility enforces strict quality controls, Scott does testing a second time in North America (including SPME). No corks are accepted until they pass testing here. There is no question that our competitors reject certain corks sent to them by their tied facilities in Europe. Our independence, however, makes it an easier process for Scott to reject goods than for others.
Scott Laboratories' independence works entirely in favor of the consumer. Traceability is enhanced. Quality and value are optimized.