Permanent marks placed on the skins of fruit and vegetables are eliminating plastic packaging and labels from supermarket produce in Europe.
Nature & More, a Netherlands-based distributor of organic fruits and vegetables, have created Natural Branding, a permanent marking system whereby a high definition laser removes part of the pigment from the outer layer of the peel of the fruit or vegetable leaving a permanent mark.
Natural Branding was first introduced on organic fruits and vegetables in 2016, in order to saving a mountain of plastic. It uses a low energy carbon dioxide laser to etch an image on the peel. What happens, is that the outermost layer of the peel is heated very locally, causing the pigment in pinpoint locations to vapourise. This only affects the top cell layers.
The permanent mark appears on the skin of the fruit or vegetable providing information on whether the product is “organic”, “non-organic” or any other essential information.
Natural Branding is a contact-free method of marking the produce that has been approved by EU Organic certifier SKAL. The method is completely safe and no additional substances are used. As this mark is clearly visible it is no longer necessary to pack the products in plastic.
The permanent mark has no effect on quality, taste or shelf life. And the skin, including the permanent mark displayed, is still edible.
According to Nature & More, the energy needed for a marking is less than 1% of the energy needed for a sticker.
Laser labels were approved by the European Union in 2013. The technology has already been in use in Australia and New Zealand since 2009.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.