One of Europe’s largest growers and marketers of organic kiwifruit has announced a major investment in laser-labeling technology, as the move away from wasteful paper labels gathers momentum across the continent.
On the back of customer feedback, the grower-exporter is now set to expand the use of the technology into exotics and other products.
Based in the Italian province of Latina, AgricolliBio grows significant volumes of green kiwifruit for export worldwide, with Italian production supplemented by supplies from its own growers in South Africa, enabling it to deliver year-round availability.
The core business is supplemented by apples and pears from Italy, and ginger from Peru.
However, from 2018 company founder and managing director Alexander Feulner expects AgricolliBio’s kiwifruit business to grow further, with the addition of year-round gold kiwifruit from the firm’s own production in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
AgricolliBio’s collaboration with Laser Food – the company behind the innovative Laser Mark laser-labelling technology – began over a year ago when Feulner learned about the system during a visit to Spain and decided to invest in it.
Although AgricolliBio has only been working with the technology for a short time to label kiwifruit, Feulner says the positive reception to the labels has encouraged the company to expand the system to other products.
“So far, the system has been very interesting and the feedback from customers has been very positive,” he says.
“At the moment, we are using the machine almost exclusively for our client ICA, the Swedish supermarket chain, to brand kiwifruit with their ‘I love Eco’ slogan, but we also plan to begin laser labelling other products, such as exotics.”
Looking further ahead, Feulner says AgricolliBio hopes to begin using the Laser Mark system to label products exported to customers in the US once the technology receives regulatory approval.
“As a company, we spend around €250,000 a year on plastic in the form of labels because we do a lot for supermarkets, particularly in the US, which require PLU labels,” he explains.
“As soon as we have a permit to use laser labelling on fruit in the US that will be very interesting. We will save a lot of money spent on plastic and it will also allow us to reduce waste from an environmental point of view.”