Knowledge for better food systems

Sticky labels on fresh food can be replaced by laser marking

A new technology using a harmless laser beam can replace stickers on fresh food produce with a direct marking on the skin of a piece of fruit or vegetable. Named ‘Natural Branding’, the innovation could result in significant savings in sticker use as well as packaging. Nature and More, a Dutch organic food exporter, in collaboration with Swedish supermarket ICA is now using the branding on organic avocados and sweet potatoes.

The markings are made by a laser beam removing a bit of pigment from the outer layer of the peel. The method has no effect on taste or shelf life and uses less than 1% of the energy needed for producing a sticker. 

According to Nature and More, far greater savings in packaging can result:

‘Organic avocados in supermarkets are usually packed in plastic foil because they must be distinguished from conventional avocados that are sold in bulk. The supermarkets want to prevent organic avocados from being weighed and paid for as conventional, because of the price difference. The same goes for sweet potatoes, apples, and many other organic products. Stickers can be an alternative, but the problem there is they come off, and besides they use paper, glue, ink, etc.’

This is an example of the labelling:

The Guardian reports on the technology here. Dutch company Nature and More, who is initiating the use the technology with Swedish supermarket ICA, has written about it here

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