AgrocolliBio, one Europe’s largest growers and marketers of organic kiwifruit has announced a major investment in innovative laser-labelling technology in collaboration with technology provider Laser Food, as the move away from wasteful paper labels gathers momentum across the continent. With feedback received from customers already very positive, 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.
Feulner emphasises that an important point of difference for the company is its focus on growing and exporting its own organic production. “Everything is organic and we grow, which is a bit different to what you see on the market today where there are many marketers who buy from many different companies and growers, whereas we are the primary grower,” he explains.
AgricolliBio’s collaboration with Laser Food – the company behind the innovative Laser Mark laser-labelling technology – began over a year ago when Feulner learnt 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.”
About Laser Food
Laser Food’s Laser Mark system, approved for use in the EU, add labels by marking fruit surfaces using depigmentation through a process that does not harm the product in any way whatsoever. Laser Food began life in 2006 in response to what company founder Jaime Sanfelix identified as significant difficulties in supermarkets with the non-labelling or mislabelling of fruits, as well as the chance to make savings and limit the impact on the environment of wasteful paper labels.
In November 2014, Laser Food was given the opportunity to expand at a global level with the signing of a major marketing agreement with JBT Corporation, a food solutions specialist with a presence in some 25 countries. As part of the agreement, JBT now builds and promotes the Laser Mark system worldwide, making it more financially accessible to growers and exporters in key fruit growing regions across the globe.