Marks & Spencer to trial laser labels for fresh fruits, vegetables; laser technology offers cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative to traditional paper fruit labels, works by removing pigment from area of fruit surfaces and applying contrasting liquid

VALENCIA, Spain , June 11, 2014 (press release) – Innovative laser labels for fresh fruits and vegetables are set to make their first appearance on UK supermarket shelves, following the signing of an agreement between leading retailer Marks & Spencer and technology company Laser Food to trial the concept in a number of stores.

The retailer will be trailing the laser labelling system with oranges in several of its stores over the coming months, providing British consumers with a chance to see first-hand the technology that allows brands to be written onto a fruit surface without damaging the interior.

If successful, Marks and Spencer said the technology could be potentially be used with other fruit and vegetable categories in the future.

According to Andrew Mellonie, a senior agronomist at Marks & Spencer, the company’s initial meeting with Laser Food came about after officials at the retailer read about the laser labelling system developed by the Spanish technology specialist.

“We had a meeting with Laser Food after we saw an article in the trade press,” Mellonie explained.

“We thought it was an interesting concept to try because often fresh produce is stickered, which can be difficult to remove, plus there can be a lot of design changes, so growers can be left with stockpiles of stickers that they can’t use.

“From this point of view, the concept would fit in with Marks & Spencer’s Plan A for sustainability.”

Although the date of the trial has not yet been confirmed, Mellonie said the system would be rolled out to a number of Marks & Spencer stores over the coming months, with the retailer planning support materials for participating outlets.

“We’re planning a trial with oranges in a few stores and will be putting something out to the stores to help them explain the concept to customers,” he said.

Mellonie added that Marks & Spencer was aware of a number of categories where the technology could potentially be used in the future.

Overseas success

Although the company itself is based in Valencia, Spain, Laser Food managing director Jaime Sanfélix said that the system was becoming more popular outside Spain’s borders than within its country of origin.

In fact, Sanfélix said that 90% of Laser Food’s activities now take place outside Spain.

Laser Food’s managing director said that the company, which offers a service tailored to the individual needs of each client, was currently working with customers in Italy, France and Poland as well as the UK, and had plans to move into markets as far afield as Brazil, Australia and Chile.

Widespread application

The technology, which offers a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative to traditional, paper fruit labels, works by removing the pigment from a miniscule area of fruit surfaces and applying contrasting liquid allowing producers to inscribe almost any form of logo.

This is achieved using completely natural products1 and without damaging either the fruit surface or the interior in any way whatsoever, meaning the commercial value of the product is not affected.

Sanfélix added that the laser labelling system2 could be used in conjunction with any type of fruit or vegetable, although he noted that labelling on oranges had been among the most difficult to achieve due to the essential oils present in orange peel.

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