Why Marks & Spencer has started lasering avocados

A supermarket has begun labelling avocados with lasers rather than stickers in a move that will save 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue every year.

Monday, 19th June 2017, 12:23 pm
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 3:28 pm
Lasered avocados. Picture issued by Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer said a successful trial could lead to the initiative being rolled out to other fruits and vegetables.

It believes the move, which will use less energy and lead to a lower carbon footprint, is a first for the UK.

Lasered avocado. Picture issued by Marks & Spencer

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The labelling works by shining intense light onto the avocado's skin, which retracts back and discolours only the very top layer, meaning it does not damage the fruit.

The avocados are lasered with the M&S logo, best before date, country of origin and product code for entering at the till.

M&S fruit technologist Charlie Curtis said: "When we first saw the technology in Sweden a couple of years ago, I knew we had to get involved.

"We've been following it for a while and are so excited to finally be launching it on avocados.

Marks & Spencer

"Sustainability is at the heart of our business and the laser labelling is a brilliant way for us to reduce packaging and energy use."

M&S first introduced avocados back in 1968 as an "Avocado Pear", which customers enjoyed as a dessert with custard.

Last year the retailer sold 12 million avocados, with sales up 29% on the year.

The retailer trialled a similar laser technique a few years ago on citrus fruit using a different technology, but, while it looked effective and was quick to apply, it caused a slight deterioration in skin quality and was discontinued.

Lasered avocado. Picture issued by Marks & Spencer

Mr Curtis said: "Providing all goes well with the avocado lasering, we could look at rolling the technology out to all sorts of other fruit and vegetables in the future.

"We have the potential to reduce packaging exponentially which is very exciting."

The laser-labelled avocados are available from Thursday in selected stores.

Marks & Spencer