Nature & More, Europe's leading distributor of organic produce, is going to mark organic fruits and vegetables with Natural Branding, in close cooperation with Swedish supermarket chain ICA, in order to save on plastic packaging. Natural Branding is the organic version of laser marking. The first organic products that will be sold with Natural Branding are avocados and sweet potatoes. Just on avocados alone, this will eliminate at least 725,000 packaging units in the coming year. With more products and customers, the number can easily run into millions.
Organic avocados in supermarkets are usually packed in plastic foil because they must be distinguished from conventional avocados that are sold in bulk. The supermarkets want to prevent organic avocados from being weighed and paid for as conventional, because of the price difference. The same goes for sweet potatoes, apples, and many other organic products. Stickers can be an alternative, but the problem there is they come off, and besides they use paper, glue, ink, etc.
Nature & More can now mark fresh produce without using any materials. Natural Branding is the organic approach to marking fruits and vegetables with a laser beam. In the process, a bit of pigment is removed from the outer layer of the peel. This contact-free method was approved by EU Organic certifier SKAL, no additional substances are used, and the method is so superficial that it has no effect on taste or shelf life. The energy needed for a marking is less than 1% of the energy needed for a sticker.
Paul Hendriks, packaging expert at Nature & More, is very pleased with the new technology. "The most sustainable way to pack is not to pack. I have been saying that for years, but it has been difficult to bring about in the supermarket. With Natural Branding it becomes a logical option. We are very glad that ICA, as a front-runner, is taking this sustainable road with us. We think green consumers will be delighted, because research shows again and again that they disapprove of plastic packaging."
Nature & More expects to save a lot of plastic and energy with Natural Branding. In 2015, Eosta sold 725,380 packs of avocados to major Swedish retail chain ICA. To pack them, 217 km (135 miles) of plastic foil was used, at a width of 30 cm (11.8 inches). Measured in weight, this is 2,042 kg of plastic. Measured in CO2, it is equivalent to an average car driving 1.3 times around the world. On top of the plastic savings, the use of cardboard boxes and pallets can be decreased as well, says Hendriks.
Nature & More is the "trace & tell" trademark for organic fruits and vegetables of distributor Eosta, Europe's market leader in fresh produce, based in the Netherlands. Nature & More is constantly searching for ways to pack less. Nature & More campaigns Save Our Soils and True Cost of Food drew international attention.
Source: Nature & More