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Carol Houghton: Measuring food freshness

The label industry is currently involved in a sustainability battle; finding ‘greener’ alternatives and reducing carbon footprint. But this concern reaches beyond the package and to another culprit for large quantities of waste – the product itself.

A UK converter is launching a ‘revolutionary’ time temperature label constructed on a specially adapted Mark Andy press (see L&L issue 4, 2012). At the other end of the supply chain, British supermarket chain Asda has announced it will launch new packaging to indicate freshness of its avocados. 

Both technologies mentioned above use a universally recognizable ‘traffic light system’ to tell consumers of the produce’s freshness. Asda’s new packaging will communicate the fruit’s ripeness through color, but the key innovation occurs in the production line where two sensors assess the avocado’s softness in order to sort and pack it into the relevant colored pack.

It is estimated that GBP £12 billion of food is wasted each year in the UK alone. Innovations such as these are designed to alert consumers to take action before produce expires, thus cutting food waste. This recent trend seems to be snowballing and is another example of how labels and packaging can add value to a brand.

Carol Houghton, journalist, L&L