Two-pronged education programs
Lovell points out that their program addresses two groups, store employees and customers for these reasons:
- We need store employees to use the Fresh Meter to manage the freshness of the products for sale.
- We need customers to use the fresh meter to select the freshest fish and ensure the quality and safety until they use it. The Fresh Meter lets the customer know, even in their home fridge if the product is fresh and safe.
“We have not added extra signage in store at this time as we’re trying a slow roll out of the technology to gauge consumer acceptance through sales and direct feedback,” Lovell says. “We also designed the Fresh Meter to be simple enough to use without added marketing or education. The philosophy is that the customer has to ‘get it’ by looking at it once.”
Lovell says the FreshMeter technology fills a crucial gap in the safety of packaged seafood.
“No one in the market is offering a solution for customers to know the freshness at the time of purchase through the time they take it home, store it, and consume it,” he says. “Traditional fish-cutting counters in stores have no way of demonstrating how fresh the fish is and consumers don’t know if they’ve handled the fish safely. Who knows how long it’s been in the hot car? Who knows if it’s still fresh in their fridge at home? Now they can.”
Easy & Fresh is also exploring other ways to use the Fresh Meter.
“In our fresh, ready-to-eat food and produce processing (value added) facilities, we’re exploring ways to apply Fresh Meter technology to demonstrate the value of the Fresh & Easy brand,” says Lovell. “Delivering ‘fresh’ to our customers is our core value and the Fresh Meter is our innovative, industry-leading solution.”
A backstory and more details from Bizerba
Pedro Garza, Bizerba USA’s regional sales manager, industrial product manager, label technologies, says the company’s Smart label technology had been in development since 2008, but it wasn’t ready for the U.S. marketplace until 2014 “after going through various design iterations and improvements. We had to go back to the drawing board a few times to make sure that the label would resonate with the end consumer. It’s all about the shoppers’ experience to quickly understand what the label does and how it functions, all at a quick glance. I think we have achieved that.”
Bizerba has experience with the OnVu Smart Label in Europe.
“We have had some success in launching the label on pork products as well as fresh cut produce,” says Garza. “We are in projects and discussions with U.S. based brands for convenience and ready-to-eat foods which we think present a great opportunity for the Fresh Meter since these particular category of foods are consumed without ever being cooked. For these foods, maintaining freshness via the cold chain is of the utmost importance. Santa Monica Seafood has been a valued partner of ours. They are very well respected and have an impressive list of customers that trust them to supply fresh and safe seafood. For us, the application at SMS provides a solid reference for other perishable categories to model. If we can ensure the freshness of seafood, we can ensure the freshness of a whole suite of other perishables to the end consumer.”
He says the success with Fresh & Easy proves the technology can be adapted for other products and for products with differing shelf lives.
“One of the reasons we have achieved success with the OnVu FreshMeter is because of the inherent ability for the technology to be tailor fit to the shelf life of the product that it is going on,” he explains. “Without being disruptive to the production process, we can easily tune the label to match the shelf life of the various products that are being packed. We do this by our proprietary UV light activation process. In terms of the label design, we worked closely with the Fresh & Easy brand development team to choose a design that would meet the technical requirements for the Seafood HACCP code, but would also resonate well with the end customer.”
Note: as this article was finalized we learned that the chain was closing stores and considering bankruptcy, according to an article in the LA Times.
Smart packaging will be presented in a case study, New Developments in Smart Technologies and Intelligent Labeling, during SouthPack in Orlando, FL, on Thursday Nov. 19.
You’ll find more on Smart Packaging at PackagingDigest.com
Passionate about packaging? Learn about the latest developments in packaging innovation at SouthPack 2015, Nov. 18-19, in Orlando, FL.