What’s Up With Sticky Fruit Labels?
The increasingly global nature of the fruit and vegetable market requires a common standard for product identification and labelling that allows producers to adhere to regulatory and business compliance at both the local and global levels. In addition to improved traceability, these standards for product identification increase efficiencies in the supply chain and allow producers to manage ordering and receiving rapidly and accurately with automated electronic data processing. The resulting flexibility allows companies to make timely, data-driven business decisions in a sector subject to constant changes in climate, weather, and plant health.
What’s on a Fruit Label?
Labelling requirements vary depending on the local rules of the target market. In general, fruit labels will include a price look up (PLU) and barcode. Information encoded can include country of origin, variety, batch or lot number, expiration date, and more. The small stickers on loose fruit (as opposed to prepackaged items) are usually too small to include a human readable interpretation (HRI) of the barcode, so the PLU is used to manually identify the product. These are generally four digits long, with a leading 9 in a five-digit PLU meaning that the item was grown organically.
All labels provide the opportunity for producers to showcase their brand. With that in mind, there are certain design requirements that promote readability including font size (14 PT minimum), and standards governing barcode quality. Without proper barcode placement, clear printing, and the appropriate contrast, inefficiencies and the resulting cost increases will occur at every stage of the supply chain.
Other Label Requirements
Fruit stickers can be made of paper and plastic. The adhesive must be food grade in accordance with the standards set out by the governing organization of the target market. It is important to note that the stickers themselves are digestible (meaning they won’t stick around in the body), but they are not considered edible.
The Future of Fruit Labels
We have come a long way in supply chain automation and traceability, but there is always room for improvement. Innovations such as edible fruit stickers, labels that signal when the fruit is ripe, dissolvable and compostable labels are all examples of what we can expect to see in markets at some point in the future.