Featured image for Tiny Stickers Combat Massive Food Waste Issues By Using Color As A Tool

Tiny Stickers Combat Massive Food Waste Issues By Using Color As A Tool

by Chloe Gordon on 07/05/2023 | 3 Minute Read

I have a lot of pet peeves, some stranger than others, but I've always been annoyed at having to peel off unnecessary branded stickers from bananas and apples. Of course, I understand the purpose of branding and love a good Chiquita banana, but, in reality, the stickers exist solely as unnecessary waste, or at least communicate their produce code to the person ringing you up at the store. 

But what if fruit and vegetable stickers could be to tackle food waste instead of just becoming trash? 

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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO) and the National Department of Planning, 6.1 million tons of food are wasted annually in Colombia alone, and 40% of the waste is from fruits and vegetables. To help solve the food waste problem, specifically with fruits and vegetables, Makro Supermarkets turned to the creative agency Grey to set a sustainability objective to help their stores waste less while supporting the education of its shoppers. 

Grey thoughtfully designed innovative stickers that use colors, not technology, to help show consumers how their produce can be used at every stage of ripeness. Each color on the sticker is associated with a series of easy-to-prepare recipes, which you can also find on Makro's Instagram account. 

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"Because Colombia is a country with abundant fruits and vegetables, the waste problem is worse. People throw them away because they're not 'picture perfect.' But, by creating these stickers and extending the fruit and vegetable life spans, delicious recipes will reward customers,” shares Juan José Posada, Grey president and CCO. "Changing behavior is difficult, but someone has to bring fresh ideas to the table to help win this battle for the planet.”  

Not only do the stickers provide an innovative approach to ripeness, but the colors within the gradient for each item were consciously chosen. "We took pictures of the varieties of fruits under the most neutral lighting conditions and then sampled the skin color to add it to the design. We even added spots in the case of the mango or the banana to match all the stages so that when the right moment came, the sticker would blend in magically, only showing the recipe's name." 

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The Life Extending Stickers help to educate consumers on the best ways to use fruits and vegetables, helping to disprove the myth that they are unusable once ripe. "Can a simple 1x1 inch sticker help battle food wase? The answer is absolutely!" exclaims Posada. 

"I love it when colleagues hate you (in a good way) for seeing something that hasn't been done before but now seems so obvious," Posada states. Often, simply reframing the use of an object, even something as seemingly minuscule as a fruit and vegetable sticker, can create something that solves a problem as massive as unnecessary food waste. 

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So yes, I’ll forever be annoyed by unnecessary fruit and vegetable stickers. That said, I can always get behind a sticker that helps educate and reframe consumers’ mindsets to battle the massive food waste problem we currently face.

Grey’s forward-thinking stickers and, well, those of the scratch-and-sniff variety, are two of the greatest kinds.