In an article published on January 16, 2107 by The Guardian, editor Nina Pullman reports on laser marking fruit and vegetables as an alternative to applying sticker labels. Dutch fruit and vegetable supplier Nature & More and Swedish supermarket ICA are currently running a trial with laser marks on organic avocados and sweet potatoes in response to consumer demand for less packaging. The laser marking technique, dubbed “natural branding,” removes pigment from the skin of produce. “The mark is invisible once skin is removed and doesn’t affect shelf life or eating quality,” Pullman writes. The laser technology calculates to be more sustainable than sticker labels, in terms of plastic and energy use, as well as CO2 emissions.
According to Peter Hagg, business unit manager at ICA, “the sustainability saving is particularly important for organic shoppers” who are “driven by environmental awareness, like climate change and belief in health benefits.” Hagg further noted that “younger shoppers also choose products depending on the environmental impact of the packaging.” Therefore, “switching from plastic to cardboard is a bonus, but selling organic produce as loose is even better,” Hagg stated. However, in the EU all organic produce must be marked as such, hence the need for stickers, or some other type of labeling, if selling loose.
Nina Pullman (January 16, 2017). “Swedish supermarkets replace sticky labels with laser marking.” The Guardian
Keith Loria (January 18, 2017). “Will laser marking replace produce stickers?” Food Dive