Swedish supermarket chain ICA started experimenting in December with "natural branding," a process that uses low-energy carbon dioxide lasers to remove the pigment from the outer skins of fruits and vegetables.
The laser beams create tattoo-like patterns — in this case the product's name, country of origin and code number — similar to the way hot irons brand cattle. If its test is successful, ICA, which has 1,350 stores across Sweden, hopes to cut down on the stickers and packaging it now uses to identify its organic produce.
"It's a new technique, and we are searching for a smarter way of branding our products due to the fact that we think we have too much unnecessary plastic material or packaging material on our products," Peter Hagg, the chain's senior manager for fruits and vegetables, said.
ICA decided to start with sweet potatoes and avocados because their peels are not typically eaten and have a tendency to shed the stickers normally used to brand produce. But branded broccoli and engraved eggplants may not be far behind.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.