Laser Marking Technology is Replacing Sticky Labels! Check it out

Here’s a fun fact: most food retailers use additional packaging on fruits and vegetables that already have their own natural protective packaging from mother nature, and one of the main reasons they do so is just so they could add the required labels on them. If this sounds like an unnecessary waste of resources, you’re completely right, and you’re not the only one thinking that way. In an effort to cut down on this redundant practice, Dutch vegetable and fruit supplier Fruit & More teamed up with Swedish supermarket chain ICA to test an alternative method. Meet the branding of the 21st century – laser marking.

Laser Marking Explained

Unlike traditional printing, which makes use of a printer to print out the information on paper (or, in this context, on a sticky label),

Here’s a fun fact: most food retailers use additional packaging on fruits and vegetables that already have their own natural protective packaging from mother nature, and one of the main reasons they do so is just so they could add the required labels on them. If this sounds like an unnecessary waste of resources, you’re completely right, and you’re not the only one thinking that way. In an effort to cut down on this redundant practice, Dutch vegetable and fruit supplier Fruit & More teamed up with Swedish supermarket chain ICA to test an alternative method. Meet the branding of the 21st century – laser marking.

Laser Marking Explained

Unlike traditional printing, which makes use of a printer to print out the information on paper (or, in this context, on a sticky label), laser marking uses a sophisticated laser to print the information on the product directly. The laser, which is basically a concentrated beam of light, burns a layer of the product it is applied to in a very precise manner, thus marking the information it is programmed to print.

Laser Marking in Fruit and Vegetables

The reason this technique was tested in the fruit and vegetable segment is that the subjects in question were already coming with their own protective skin, so they did not need additional packaging. By marking the required information directly on the product, any additional packaging becomes useless. What’s even more important is that the products that were tested are all products that need to be peeled in order to be consumed (oranges, avocados and sweet potatoes were chosen for this pilot program), so concerns about the impact of using this innovative technology on the product itself were not present, as the marking was made on the product’s skin, which would be completely removed before the product was consumed, thus the edible part of the product was not affected in any way.

However, extensive tests are conducted on products that do not need to be peeled (such as apples), and researches are confident that the technology is harmless to use on such products as well, and that it will not affect the product’s taste, life cycle or any other of its properties in any way, so it is highly likely that its use will be extended to these products as well.

Laser Marking for Other Products

Once the advantages of laser marking become visible, it is highly likely it will be considered as an option for replacing sticky labels in other segments as well. A great example is canned goods – these products already come in metallic cans, which are required to protect the product, but then are disposed of; currently, sticky labels are used on these cans, but using laser marking, the necessary information can be printed directly on the can. The product inside will not be affected in any way, as the laser only affects the very top layer of the material it is used on, or, in this case, the outside layer of the can, with the product being left intact inside.

Disadvantages of Laser Marking

One of the main disadvantages of laser marking is that it will move a big part of the packaging process from once central location (at this time, there are companies that create labels for multiple brands and then ship them to other companies for use) to multiple locations (in house for each company), or add another step in the process (the company that will use the packaging will have to send it to another company for marking, then get it back and use it for the products). This may seem like a deal-breaker, but it’s just a change in the way things get done, and even with the extra steps, it will definitely become more profitable in the future due to reduced costs on the long run.

Advantages of Laser Marking

Aside from the obvious advantage of using less materials, laser marking has numerous other advantages as well. Laser marking machines are very versatile, and significantly more precise than traditional printers, so they can print highly complex designs on significantly more materials than a printer can print on. Also, they can be used for additional tasks such as laser engraving, which opens up a whole other world of possibilities. Overall, despite its higher implementation costs, adopting and using laser marking is definitely a profitable option.