Laser-engraved avocados hit Tescos shelves in eco-friendly initiative

In a move to help the environment, the supermarket will trial the scrapping of barcode stickers currently on extra large avocados and replace them with a bold laser etching.

At the same time it 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.

If rolled out across all stores, the moves, made jointly with the UK’s main avocado supplier, Westfalia Fruit, based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, 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
  • Nearly a million plastic stickers on its loose extra large avocados (information based on current sales information, provided by Westfalia Fruit)

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

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, a leading multinational supplier of avocados, are behind the new laser-etching technology and conducted extensive trials to ensure the quality, shelf life and taste of the fruit is not affected.

Westfalia Fruit general manager Graham Isaac said: “Westfalia Fruit 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 high-powered lasers remove a minute section of the top layer of avocado skin, etching size information on the fruit as directed by a computer program.

In a third of a second the process essentially leaves a tattoo that shows information for customers and cashiers, including the size or variety of the fruit.

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

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