GLOBAL – Westfalia Fruit, a leading global supplier of avocados and fresh produce, is taking a significant step toward sustainability by introducing laser-etched avocados.

This new technology aims to replace nearly one million plastic price lookup (PLU) stickers annually.

Westfalia’s new laser-etching technology involves using high-powered lasers to remove a small section of the avocado’s outer skin.

This process, controlled by a computer program, leaves a “tattoo” on the fruit, displaying crucial information such as size, variety, or other consumer-relevant details.

The entire procedure takes only a third of a second and occurs after the avocados have ripened, ensuring the markings are clear against the darker skin.

“The laser process happens while the avocados are on their final trays after ripening, making it very efficient,” said Andrew Mitchell, Director of Innovation at Westfalia Fruit. “As the avocados ripen, the skin darkens, creating a sharper contrast for the laser-etched image.”

Extensive tests were conducted to ensure the new technology did not impact the taste or quality of the avocados. Westfalia confirmed that the consumer experience remains unchanged, maintaining the same level of enjoyment.

“The small plastic stickers currently placed on individual avocados are not recyclable. Efforts to develop more eco-friendly versions come with significantly higher costs. Therefore, we challenged ourselves to explore more viable alternatives,”

Mitchell explained. “Finding a suitable replacement would result in a considerable reduction of plastic in the supply chain, aligning with our sustainability goals and those of our customers.”

Westfalia believes that once the concept is commercially proven, more customers and regions will recognize the benefits and incorporate laser etching into their processes. The approach promises to be as appealing and effective as stickers while offering savings in packaging and efficiency.

“The technology has reached a point where it meets the industry’s ambitions and needs. With advancements in microchips and laser production, the necessary investment is now more viable,” Mitchell stated.

“Our tests have shown the exact speed and number of lasers required to ensure optimal production, guaranteeing that each avocado has the correct information.”

Mitchell emphasized the broader impact of this innovation: “This is truly one of the sustainability technologies of the future developed by Westfalia and our partners.”

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