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ICA Sweden first to carry laser branding
Peter Hägg from ICA said that he is excited about the project and thinks that it fits in perfectly with their organic offering. The choice to start with avocados and sweet potatoes was a logical one, as they are both products which have always required packaging because stickers do not stick to the bumpy avocado skin or the sweet potato skin because of soil residue. Alongside cutting down on unnecessary packaging and waste, consumers are also able to only buy what they need, which is not possible with pre-packaged goods.
"We have a huge assortment in our Swedish stores and we would like to give our consumers a choice of both organic and traditional goods. Having to package, organic sweet potatoes, for instance, would make the price too high; you will add waste somewhere in the chain, often because the consumer isn't as free to choose the amount he would like to purchase. There are a lot of benefits to laser branding and we are really hoping that it will become a success." shared Peter.
In Sweden, 20% of everything sold is organic and consumers are very aware of packaging, an issue which has been very much in the public eye in recent years.
The laser technology is actually from Swedish company JBT Foodtech and Dutch organic distributor Eosta will label the fruit and vegetables before sending them directly to ICA for their customers.
Peter shared that they have decided to test the new branding for at least 3 to 4 months and will later evaluate if they would like to take it further, possibly expanding into other types of fruit and vegetables.
ICA is busy educating consumers and has found that social media, such as Facebook, has been really beneficial in getting the message out.
"It is always tricky getting information into 1300 stores simultaneously, which is why media like Facebook work really well for reaching customers. Information for the consumer will also be sent out with the boxes to the stores which the customers can read there or take with them to read at home." said Peter.
"It is very important to let customers know what is happening in the stores and why these fruits and vegetables look different to the rest. That is why we have been very active in the media for the last week, because we would like consumers to know about it before they see it in the store, so it doesn't come as a surprise."
When asked about the possibilities of this kind of labelling in the future, Peter speculated that he thinks it would be really good for vegetables such as peppers, aubergines and melons.
"There have been great sales for new varieties in recent years and we tried to use compostable stickers for organic melons last year, which unfortunately didn't work, with the stickers ending up all over the store. It was heartbreaking to have to switch back to metallic stickers for organic products. However, we are cautious for now and would like to wait and see first how the branding is received by the customers." said Peter.
Along with minimising packaging, the laser labelling always helps reduce food waste and is more economical for organic consumers.
"This kind of branding only brings positive points; you are reducing the plastic and other packaging material, there is no glue, no colouring is added, it is better for the environment and it is safer because the stickers can't fall off. When eating, there is no need to peel off the laser branding." concluded Peter.
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