APCOR, the Portuguese Cork Association, today announced that it has raised €2.5m, which it will spend over a two year period in an effort to fund research into the eradication of TCA in cork wine closures.

The association, which represents 75% of the cork producers in Portugal, the world's largest cork producing nation, announced the drive at today's London International Wine and Spirits Fair. Commencing in 2003 and running for two years, five areas of research will be undertaken, including work on the lifecycle of natural cork stoppers; the stabilisation period of raw natural cork; natural cork's contribution to the maturation of wine, new treatments and developments within the industry and new processes to eradicate TCA.

Francisco de Brito Evangelista, the director for APCOR's International Campaign for Cork, said: "This initiative is a breakthrough for our industry. It demonstrates clearly, and for the first time, that we are dedicating the appropriate resources to finding a solution to TCA in natural cork stoppers - industry-wide."

Before commencing the project, APCOR said it would set up an independent forum from across the industry, including retailers and producers, so it could ascertain what the industry viewed as the essential issues, so APCOR could provide "relevant information for everyone".

Evangelista was also keen to stress that the involvement of the entire industry was important if the research was to be seen as truly independent.

Evangelista said: "We are committed to reflect the concerns and interests of the wine industry within the scope of the research, and intend the commissioning of the research to be a consultative process. We want to ensure that the results prove beneficial and informative for the cork industry and the wine industry."

The main focus of the project is to be the UK, US and Australia.