In stalls and shops all around Lisbon and other cities, you will see a galore of cork products. There’s a reason for this – 70% of the world’s cork products come from Portugal.
Cork comes from cork trees (go figure) but what makes this fascinating is that all of these trees and the land on which it grows is owned by Portuguese billionaire businessman Americo Amorim and his company in a monopoly of cork ownership. For this reason, the access to and quantity of cork in Portugal is why it has become an essential park of everyday life in many ways.
We know cork as the top of a wine bottle, but in Portugal it can comes in the form of purses, wallets, hats, ties, footwear and even home wares – cork comes in all shapes and sizes, with many different purposes.
So, when you’re doing some shopping in Lisbon and decide to take home some cork souvenirs – here’s what to look for to know you’re getting the best cork products in Portugal.
– If it smells like cork – its probably cork.
– If the price is too low, it’s not real. A cork purse costs more than 5euro to manufacture, so you can guarantee its not real if the cost is anything less than this.
– Even on a hot summer day in Lisbon, cork should maintain its temperature. The imitation (fake) cork will be hot or cold, with the climate. So this is an easy way to tell.
Moreover, your new souvenir is the “gift that keeps giving.” These trees have been growing for millions of years – through all imaginable climate conditions. They are able to grow in some of the world’s most uninhabitable, barren lands and essentially, they provide forestation where it would otherwise be impossible for another tree to grow.