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Avantium N.V., a technology company in sustainable chemistry, is collaborating with Albert Heijn to make packaging more sustainable. To this end, Avantium’s 100 % plant-based and circular material PEF (polyethylene furanoate) is being used for various forms of packaging. Refresco, a global independent beverage solutions provider for Global, National and Emerging (GNE) brands, and retailers, produces Albert Heijn’s new fruit juice bottle made out of PEF. This will be the first PEF application to be introduced in Albert Heijn stores, once Avantium’s commercial plant for PEF is operational. Albert Heijn is the first supermarket chain in the world to introduce PEF packaging for own-brand products.

“As a beverage solutions provider, we are continuously looking for innovative ways to produce soft drinks, fruit juices and other drinks. Reducing, recycling and making packaging more sustainable is an important element of our strategy. With PEF we are able to offer an alternative sustainable packaging solution to our customers. We are therefore pleased that Refresco, Avantium and Albert Heijn are now working together to bring this new fruit juice bottle to market.”, says Alexander van Assouw, Managing Director Refresco Benelux.

Avantium’s PEF is a 100% plant-based and fully recyclable polymer with a wide range of applications including bottles and packaging, films and textiles. In addition to its sustainable packaging benefits, Avantium’s PEF has superior barrier properties, extending the shelf life of beverages and food. Avantium is currently constructing the world’s first commercial plant in Delfzijl for 5 kilotons of FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid), the key building block for PEF, with commercial production expected to start in the second half of 2024. Thereafter, PEF production will be further scaled up to plants of 100 kilotons and more for large-scale production of FDCA and PEF through technology licensing.

Consumers can follow the route of their orange juice, using blockchain

Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn and Refresco have made transparent the supply chain of Albert Heijn’s own brand of ambient orange juice, using blockchain technology to do so. Refresco supplies Albert Heijn with this juice, sourced from Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC)’s juice business. Never before have consumers been able to follow the chain of a product like orange juice in this way. They can see, via a QR code, which route the oranges have traveled up until the juice is in a bottle on the store shelf. With this complete traceability, the next step is taken in transparency for consumers.

Marit van Egmond, Commercial Director Albert Heijn: ‘We supply millions of customers with good food and drink on a daily basis. This brings with it a large responsibility, and we want to actively contribute to current themes in the world around us. We are making our products healthier, are working on reducing food waste and we look at how to reduce our impact on the environment. The importance of transparency in the supply chain continues to increase. We know all the steps in the supply chain of our products, to ensure they are produced with respect for people, animals and the environment. And we want to show these steps to our clients as well, be open and transparent’.

Albert Heijn has long-standing relationships with fixed producers and suppliers for its 11,000 Albert Heijn brand products. In some cases, a production process can be made transparent relatively easily, for example, with fruits and vegetables from the Netherlands. It is more difficult for other products because they have a longer chain or consist of multiple ingredients. By using blockchain, a technology that records every step in the chain, it is possible to show customers how and by whom these products are made.

Albert Heijn and Refresco are using blockchain for the first time with AH’s ambient orange juice. The data from the steps in the production chain is linked and made transparent. The blockchain was developed in cooperation with Supply Chain Information Management (SIM), an expert in visualizing and providing continuous insight into chains via research and databases.

Juicy details
Via a QR code on the packaging, customers can follow the entire route that their orange juice has traveled before it ended up in their shopping basket. It starts in Brazil at the orange groves managed by LDC Juice, where the fruit is harvested. Among other things, the quality standards that LDC Juice has for food safety and sustainability are recorded there. The blockchain also contains information about the oranges themselves, including the harvest date range and degree of sweetness. Consumers can see these details in the chain and even send a compliment to the growers with the “Like2Farmer” functionality.

Maarten Kusters, Managing Director Refresco Benelux: ‘This is a unique way of bringing together the grower, processor, bottler, retailer and consumer and making the entire process of fruit juice production traceable and transparent. We are pleased that we can make a contribution in this way as Albert Heijn’s partner. Being the world’s largest independent producer of juices and soft drinks, Refresco is committed to a sustainable fruit juice sector. We aim for 100 % sustainably-sourced juice by 2030 in fruit juice products of our clients. In support of this ambition, we co-founded the Sustainable Juice Covenant last year, alongside other leading industry players.’

Murilo Parada, Head of LDC’s Juice Platform: ‘This project has been a great opportunity for LDC Juice to highlight the various steps in the juice journey in a transparent way. Seeing the details, from grove to bottle, helps consumers understand LDC’s sustainable juice value chain. LDC completed the first agricultural commodity trade through blockchain in January 2018 and is convinced that there are tremendous opportunities by using the technology as an enabler of digital transformation.’