Swedish supermarket using lasers to label fruits to save on unnecessary plastic wrapping

Bradley Wint
Jan 19, 2017 12:26am AST
Photo: Nature & More

Nature & More, in conjunction with Swedish supermarket chain ICA, will soon be using lasers to label its organic fruits and vegetables to cut down on plastic wrapping usage.

Organic food distributors usually ship its products in plastic wrap with special labels as a way of distinguishing them from regular produce because of the price difference in the supermarket.

However, Nature & More felt that too much energy was being wasted producing these labels, given the amount of plastic wrap being used along with ink, paper, glue, etc.

They discovered that using low powered lasers to burn on labels onto organic fruits and vegetables made more sense as it required only 1% of the energy used as compared to the more traditional wrapping method. This means that products can bear the company stamp, and batch/product information without having to be wrapped separately.

Dubbed as “Natural Branding”, The lasered-on codes can be read by the supermarket’s scanners, allowing them to immediately pull up the correct product type and charging the customer the correct amount.

The lasers have very minimal effects on the food items themselves, resulting in a mere superficial effect being produced on the skin of the fruit or vegetable. It in no way changes the taste or shelf life of the product.

Paul Hendriks, packaging expert at Nature & More, is very pleased with the new technology. “The most sustainable way to pack is not to pack. I have been saying that for years, but it has been difficult to bring about in the supermarket. With Natural Branding it becomes a logical option. We are very glad that ICA, as a front-runner, is taking this sustainable road with us. We think green consumers will be delighted, because research shows again and again that they disapprove of plastic packaging.”

Eosta, an international distributor of fresh organic and fair fruits and vegetables, sold 725,380 packs of avocados to major Swedish retail chain ICA back in 2015. Based on that figure, Natural Branding laser labels could save about 2,042 kg of plastic.

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