Sustainability Awards 2017 winner: Best Practice

ICA, Laser Marking Fresh Produce

In late 2016 Swedish grocery chain ICA tried out a new method for marking fruits and vegetables. Instead of using stickers or packaging products in trays and cellophane wrap, the products are marked directly on their skin using a laser. Having successfully pioneered this new method, ICA has set a precedent which looks set to spread laser marking internationally. In June 2017 the UK retailer Marks & Spencer (known for its own innovative approach to sustainability) reported that it is trialling the process on its avocados, and expects to extend the laser labelling to more of its fruits and vegetables.

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ICA’s laser marking pilot project has since been adopted as permanent practice and is being expanded to more organic fruit and vegetable products, including organic melons and butternut squash.

“Customers have shown keen interest, and the new marking method has also gained international attention as a noteworthy sustainability project,” Mr Hägg revealed. “We believe that in a couple of years the marking method will be commonplace in Europe, since interest in more environment-friendly packaging has only intensified during our trial period. We are also looking into methods to expand this technology to fruits which aren't suitable for laser marking as their skin repairs itself, such as citrus fruits, using edible ink."