Marks and Spencer has launched a new lasering method to label avocados in a bid reduce paper waste.
The British retailer said moving away from using sticky labels to lasering will save ten tonnes of labels and backing paper and five tonnes of adhesive each year.
The avocados are lasered with the M&S logo, best before date, country of origin and product code for entering at the till.
An intense light is shined onto the fruit’s skin which retracts back and discolours only the very top layer. This is not destructive to the fruit and can be very precise, claims M&S.
M&S fruit technologist Charlotte Curtis said: “When we first saw the technology in Sweden a couple of years ago I knew we had to get involved. We’ve been following it for a while and are so excited to finally be launching it on avocados.
“Sustainability is at the heart of our business and the laser labelling is a brilliant way for us to reduce packaging and energy use.”
The avocados are harvested and graded at source, then shipped over to the UK. Once they arrive they are ripened and placed into trays which are then put on a conveyor belt through the lasering machine.
M&S trialled a similar technique a few years ago on citrus fruit with different technology but it was discontinued as it caused a deterioration in skin quality.
Curtis continued: “Providing all goes well with the avocado lasering, we could look at rolling the technology out to all sorts of other fruit and vegetables in the future. We have the potential to reduce packaging exponentially which is very exciting.”
Britain has experienced a boom in avocado sales in recent years. Last year M&S sold 12 million and its sales are up 29% year-on-year.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018
Subscribe to FoodBev Media’s updates today for the latest food and beverage industry news and free insights delivered straight to your inbox!
Sign up here.