Tesco to use laser etchings on avocados

Tesco to use laser etchings on avocados

It’s a trial designed to help the environment

A UK supermarket will use lasers to draw size information onto some of its avocados instead of using stickers, in a trial designed to help the environment.

High-powered lasers will remove a tiny section of the top layer of the skin of extra large avocados sold at Tesco.

Westfalia Fruit, which supplies avocados to Tesco, said avocados were perfect for the laser trial due to the thickness of the bright green fruit’s outer skin.

They will etch size information onto the avocados as directed by a computer programme, with the process taking a third of a second.

Once the avocados have been zapped, they are essentially left with a tattoo on their skin which shows information for customers and cashiers, including the size or variety of the fruit.

Westfalia Fruit said it had conducted extensive trials to ensure the quality, shelf life and taste of the popular salad item is not affected by the laser etchings.

Tesco sells nearly 70 million avocados a year and has seen demand for the fruit grow by 15% in the last year.

It said it is starting with laser etchings on the extra large avocados as they give the most visual impact.

The chain is also trialling replacing the plastic tray packaging for two of its most popular avocado lines and moving to a cardboard container that is easier to recycle.

The trials will take place in about 270 Tesco stores in south-east England and – if feedback from customers is positive – will be rolled out across the Tesco estate.

Tesco is working on the trial with Westfalia Fruit, which is the UK’s main avocado supplier and is based in Spalding, Lincolnshire.

It said that if the changes are rolled out across all Tesco stores, it could save more than 20 million pieces of plastic tray packaging from the twin pack avocado alone, increasing up to 25 million pieces across the pre-packed range.

Tesco said it could also save nearly a million plastic stickers on its loose extra large avocados, based on current sales information provided by the supplier.

Tesco avocado buyer Lisa Gilbey said: “We’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of our products, and cut down on plastic waste in the home through changes to our packaging.

“We’re really excited to hear customer feedback on our new laser-etched avocados, avoiding the need for a barcode sticker that can easily be forgotten and left on when recycling through household food waste.”

Westfalia Fruit general manager Graham Isaac said: “(We) continually seeks ways to improve our environmental performance and operate in a responsible manner, by focusing on priorities such as reducing – and wherever possible, removing – plastic from our packaging to contribute to solving the plastic waste challenge.

“We are confident that, with a clear focus and united effort as an industry, we will be able to significantly reduce our waste, use natural resources responsibly and protect the environment and biodiversity for all our futures.”

The laser-etched avocados have been cascading out to Tesco stores over the last few weeks, and by this weekend will be in all stores taking part in the trial.

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