Lasers Replace Stickers on Fresh Food

Posted by Customer Service on

Why stick a plastic label to food when you can print on it using a laser instead?

A lot of fresh food comes in its own natural packaging meaning there's no real need to encase them in plastic. I'm talking about produce such as potatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, avocados, and coconuts. And yet, you'll still find small plastic stickers attached to these foods advertising brand or variety. That practice could soon be a thing of the past, though, thanks to lasers. 

Spanish company Laserfood wants to replace plastic and paper labels on food completely, and a laser-based system called "Natural Branding" is the answer. Laserfood's system works by naturally marking the produce without harming it. There is no impact on the food in any way, and it still lasts as long and taste the same. 

Typically, a label consists of plastic or paper, glue, and inks. These are not easily recycled and cease being useful as soon as a product is purchased or consumed. By using Natural Branding instead, nothing is added to the product so it remains 100% recyclable.

To label the food, it is placed on a conveyor belt allowing it to pass through the Laserfood machine where it is exposed to light and then a contrast liquid. The light targets specific cells on the skin of the food to form a desired pattern by making them retract. A contrast liquid is then sprayed to make the retracted cells change color and the pattern becomes much more obvious.

The Laserfood machine can be programmed to print any number of details on to the food just like a printer. This could include a brand, dates, origin, or even images if desirable.

Laserfood managed to secure its first large-scale commercial customer earlier this month. Swedish retailer ICA is going to use Natural Branding on the sweet potatoes and avocados it sells. By doing so, over the course of a year the Fresh Produce Journal reports that ICA will require 725,000 fewer labels and in the process avoid using 220km of plastic.

Imagine applying the same technique to all fresh produce across all major food stores!


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