Marks & Spencer is to become the first British supermarket to replace paper-based labels on its fruit and vegetables with laser ‘tattooing’ technology.
The retailer has signed a partnership with Spanish firm Laser Food to trial the laser labelling system on oranges in several UK stores.
The technology uses liquids and natural products to mark barcodes, sell-by-dates and other logos on to the skin of the fruit without damaging the inside, according to Laser Food.
If the trial proves successful, it will be extended to other foods.
Andrew Mellonie, a senior agronomist at M&S, said: "We thought it was an interesting concept to try because often fresh produce is stickered, which can be difficult to remove, plus there can be a lot of design changes, so growers can be left with stockpiles of stickers that they can’t use.
"From this point of view, the concept would fit in with Marks & Spencer’s Plan A for sustainability."
He added: "We’re planning a trial with oranges in a few stores and will be putting something out to the stores to help them explain the concept to customers."
The system would also allow growers and retailers to add QR matrix codes to product surfaces, which Laser Food claims provides greater traceability.
In June 2013, the EU approved the use of the chemicals, including iron oxides and hydroxides, in the process.