There's not a lot to love about sticker food labels on fresh fruits and vegetables, as they leave a gluey residue, are not recyclable, and waste resources like plastic and ink. But now a Spanish company has created a system using lasers to replace plastic and paper labels with "natural branding."
The company, called Laser Food, uses a laser-based system to mark fruit and vegetables without affecting the taste of the product or its shelf life.
How does it work? Produce is transported on a conveyor belt to a Laser Food machine, where light targets cells of the skin to create a pattern, reports PCMag. Then, a contrast liquid is sprayed on the skin to make the lasered cells change color. The entire process can brand several fruits or veggies in seconds.
"The machines that mark the fruits are meant to be installed where the fruits are prepared and packed," Stephane Merit, business development manager of Laser Food, told USA Today. "This is an industrial process that works at high speed and allows to mark large volumes of produce."
Last month, Laser Food scored their first commercial client: Swedish retailer ICA. The retailer, in collaboration with Dutch fruit and vegetable supplier Nature & More, will utilize natural branding in a pilot program on avocados and sweet potatoes and later expand to other produce like ginger, kiwi, mango, bell peppers, apples, and cucumbers.
While labels are small, the impact after eliminating them is big. According to the Fresh Produce Journal, ICA will save 220 kilometers (135 miles) of plastic in a year in organic avocados alone.
Read more: Lasers Replace Stickers on Fresh Food from PC Magazine