The Natural Branding Movement
Why do bananas need a bag with they’ve got a peel? Are apples so fragile that the need a tray? And why in the world would you shrink-wrap a green pepper?
These are the questions that consumers, particularly those concerned with the environment, are asking as the stroll down the produce aisle. In spite of the argument that packaging can extend shelf life and prevent possible contamination, many consumers are beginning to feel that the environmental impact of plastic wrapping is simply not worth it. As Tom Hunt explains it in his fervent article for The Guardian, “Fruit and vegetables are washable and often come in their own – compostable – wrapping designed by nature. Yet we choose to display them in plastic trays, themselves cling-wrapped in another layer of plastic.” Why?
With consumers turning to social media to decry this produce-in-plastic practice, retailers have begun to take steps to respond. M&S, for example, recently announced it will be ‘laser marking’ product information into the skin of its avocados and look to extending this process to other fruits and vegetable in the future. The British retailer was inspired by Dutch fruit and veg supplier Nature & More and Swedish supermarket ICA, who developed and introduced this ‘natural branding’ solution earlier this year.
“Natural branding” uses a strong light to remove pigment from the skin of produce. The mark is invisible once skin is removed and doesn’t affect shelf life or eating quality.
This new approach will certainly make the eco-minded masses happy, but the real bonus is at the bottom line. M&S reports that by using natural branding on its avocados, it’ll save 10 tonnes of paper and five tonnes of glue a year, whilst its Nordic counterparts say they’ll save “200km (135 miles) of plastic 30cm wide.”
And yet again we see how sustainability measures more often than not equal a win at the bottom line, and how something so simple can amount to monumental change.
What are your thoughts? Put the pear in the plastic or liberate the lemons?